My Brother and Me

Wednesday, August 19, 2020


When I told my brother I’d been diagnosed with breast cancer he responded just as I knew he would:Man, you got this. This shit ain’t gonna beat you. Imma holla at God tonight, tell him to take care of my big sister and you gonna be straight.”

And that was that. I knew I would be fine because my baby brother said so.

Even though I am 7 years and 6 months older than my brother, even though I cooked his breakfast on the weekends, taught him how to tie his shoes and helped him with homework, in some ways he has taken care of me as much as I’ve helped take care of him.

That care usually comes in the shape of three words: "Man, chill out." Those words have the power to stave off my panic attacks like no anxiety medicine ever could. But only when said by my brother. 

I’m not sure how two people so different could have been raised in the same home. And I’m not sure how two people so different could get along as well as we do.


If worrying were an Olympic sport, I’d be Michael Phelps. My brother on the other hand -- nothing frazzles him. Not even a cancer diagnosis – and not because he trusts in the power of Western medicine. No, according to my brother chemotherapy, radiation – that’s all bullshit. And that’s why a few days after finding out I had cancer he showed up at my house with a huge bottle of Black Seed Oil and wouldn’t leave until I drank some of it.


“It taste like something you get at Auto Zone but it works,” my brother said.


 A month after my diagnosis I had a lumpectomy to remove the tumor in my left breast. The surgeon also removed a sentinel lymph node to test it for cancer, a process that required an injection of some substance, a substance that made my urine neon green.


I knew my brother would get a kick out of this. I couldn’t wait to tell him when he came over.


“You mean it’s green like this!?” he said, snatching up the bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid on the kitchen sink.


“Yep!” I said with a grin.


“Man, that’s crazy!”


Of all the people who came by to visit me after my surgery, my brother was the only one I shared my neon green pee story with. He was also the only one who asked the one question I was eager to answer – “So when you gonna get back on your grind?”


He wanted to know when I was going to get back to work, when I was going to get back to writing and building my business. Everyone else kept urging me to rest, to take long naps, to lie on the sofa and watch Netflix. But my brother knew that the thing that would make me feel better, the thing that would make me feel like myself, the thing that would truly help me heal would be working on my dreams.


This is the one thing we have in common, our bond that is thicker than water and blood. We are dreamers.


Despite his cool, calm, collected attitude toward life, love, and everything in between, CJ is always on 10 about his dream of being a famous music producer. And my brother is a dreamer and a doer. His music is not only used by emerging hip-hop artists but has been featured in commercials and popular TV shows, too. His big dream is to get into film scoring. I am as confident that he’ll achieve this goal as he is that I will beat cancer.


When we were kids, we had a secret handshake. Now we have our own hashtag #PowerToTheDreamers. We add it to the end of social media posts and with signatures in birthday cards.


The day after my surgery my brother called me Wonder Woman, but not in a way meant to pacify or patronize. He said it without pomp and circumstance as if it were my job title or my name.


“I wore Wonder Woman underwear to the hospital,” I told him, and we laughed.


My brother is the type of person who can know your flaws and faults, your worries and your weaknesses, who can see all of your anxiety and still also see your superpower.



  1. 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

  2. I love this! You two have an amazing relationship ❤

  3. What a guy! He is a power and I am thankful you have each other.

  4. This is beautiful! This made me reflect on the close relationship I have with my brothers. It's so awesome to know you have someone in your corner who is not quite a friend but more than family! Siblings❤❤

    1. I'm so glad you have a close relationship with your brothers!

  5. Okay, I was prepared to like your brother because, well, he’s your brother. Nothing wrong with that. But with those red sneaks, and the “Chill-Out/Can-Do” attitude and the Black Seed Oil, like isn’t nearly good enough. Your brother is Cool!

  6. This is a relationship of love that should be shared by siblings. The two of you are blessed to share genuine love. I’m with CJ, “you got this.”

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