I’ve written in prior posts about how our entire family life changed when Cam was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. From how my wife reinvented her cooking style to how our evenings going out to eat now involve more research and a certain level of trust, everyone has been affected. On a social level, I have often been the voice of the family, taking on a role of advocacy and teaching others. I have found that it helps to fulfill my internal urge to do something against a disease that I ultimately can not control. Cam is finding his voice and my wife expresses herself through the creation of safe and delicious food for him. But the other day, the fourth member of our family voiced her desire to talk about her experiences in our shared journey. She may have more to say than any of us.
Caroline just turned 10 years old and Cam is her only sibling. They squabble, as all brothers and sisters do, but they get along with one another more often than not. Caroline has a zest for living, makes friends & socializes easily and does not have any dietary concerns. She has shown no signs of having Celiac or any type of gluten intolerance. She loves to try new foods and has a very distinguished palate for a girl her age. So, when our eating style changed to benefit Cam’s condition, it affected her as much as anyone else. When talking about Celiac Awareness Month and what we could do as a family, Caroline asked if she could write a blog to talk about her feelings. Of course my answer was “absolutely” and I invited her to come up with something for this entry. Opening a new Word doc, I handed her the computer and let her do the rest. What she came up with is nothing short of amazing and heartfelt.
” Today, me, Caroline, Cameron’s 10 year old sister, will be writing about what it’s like being Cameron’s little sister. So, first of all, it was hard for me to take in that I will have to go somewhat Gluten-Free. At first I didn’t like it because honestly most of the food did not taste good to me. But over the last couple months I have learned that the Gluten-Free things tasted different but can still be good. For example the Gluten-Free pasta tastes different than the normal pasta. I also feel really bad for Cameron because I thought just going partially Gluten-Free was bad but then I thought about how Cameron feels. I mean not being able to have your favorite pizza ever again, And then I thought how many people are experiencing the same thing me and my family are. I was inspired almost instantly to share around my class, and even my entire school about what Celiac disease is. So that’s what I have been working on at school right now. Secondly it’s very hard for me to wake up in the middle of the night hearing my brother crying and crying in pain. I can’t go back to sleep without thinking how hard it would be to have Celiac disease. Thirdly I hope you all would share this blog post to any of your relatives and I hope you can share this around your work or school. Bye, thanks for reading this. Hope you enjoyed it!”
I am so proud of my children. Cam, of course, for what he has to do daily to keep himself healthy. Caroline, for doing things like this. She had never spoken with me about anything that she expressed in the paragraph above. I did not know that she was telling her class and her entire school about Celiac Disease and being an advocate to the elementary school community that she’s part of. I did not know that she heard Cam’s cries during his gluten episodes. I did not know that she had such strong interest in the feelings of her brother. I talk about Cam’s maturity in adverse situations but she deserves praise for her attitude as much as he does. Could you imagine being 10 and having the same life change happen to someone in your family and not feeling anything but selfish? How she puts his concerns and feelings on the same level as her own is a testament to her character and the individual that she has become. She is such an important part of our family and the advocate that Cam will have by his side for the rest of his life. He will grow to learn and appreciate her as he gets older. As for now, let them squabble and have their disagreements, for that’s what siblings are for.