Cancer: the six-letter word we rarely like to speak or hear about. Perhaps some of us have had it, some of us may be very close with someone who currently has it or who has had it in the past, some of us may be studying to try to cure it, and (although it is disheartening to think), almost all of us have been directly or indirectly affected by it.
When we think of cancer, we normally think of the affected patient and the physical, mental, and emotional strains that accompany a cancer diagnosis and treatment. But this illness affects more people than solely the patient: parents, siblings, relatives, friends, and many more are involved and impacted. As the older sister to a cancer survivor, my twelve year old sister, I understand the experience that cancer has on a sibling and a family, which was why I was thrilled to see that BC has its own club dedicated to siblings of cancer patients. The club’s name is C.A.S.T., which stands for Cancer Affects Siblings Too. I had a chance to speak with Michael Padulsky, the current president of C.A.S.T., and learn more about the mission of this group and how it is affecting the BC community and beyond.
When was the group formed?
My older brother, Stephen Padulsky, formed C.A.S.T. in 2010. He formed the group after my oldest brother, Timothy, passed away from Leukemia back in 2008. As the siblings of a brother with cancer, we realize the impact that the cancer experience has on siblings and how much support they truly need.
What is C.A.S.T.’s role both on and off the BC campus?
The role of C.A.S.T. is to spread awareness about the sibling-cancer experience. We want to give people the resources and support necessary to cope and deal with their situation. Oftentimes, siblings are known as “Shadow Survivors” because there are not as many resources for them to process everything that is going on when their sibling is diagnosed with cancer. This is where C.A.S.T. comes in to support them. Through events such as Stuff-A-Bear and Craft Night, we are able to send siblings stuffed animals and holiday/birthday cards to give them the extra support that they need. We hope to expand our mission to the community through a mentor/tutoring program for siblings of cancer patients at a local hospital as well.
Why is it important to raise awareness about the effects that cancer has on a sibling?
It’s important to raise awareness about the effect that cancer has on a sibling because they are extremely involved in the cancer experience. They spend most of their time inside hospitals, witnessing things that the every day person does not see. This can be extremely difficult for a sibling to do all while trying to remain strong for his or her brother or sister who is battling cancer. These “Shadow Survivors” need encouragement. They also need to realize how great of a job they are doing just by simply being present as a constant support system. It is C.A.S.T.’s mission to give siblings the support, encouragement, and care necessary to shine the light on everything that these survivors have done and will continue to do.
Where can we find out more information?
C.A.S.T. is the college chapter of a national non-profit called SuperSibs! They are a great resource to get involved with on a wider scale. However, students at Boston College can contact C.A.S.T. at [email protected], follow us on Twitter @BC_CAST, or read more about our mission and upcoming events on myBC.