Two Families who Are Fighting Cancer this National Cancer Prevention Month


Courtesy of Dessi Sarabosing

Junior Gabby Sarabosing eats sweets in Sofia, Bulgaria with her grandfather, grandmother and twin sister in 2017, six years before her grandfather was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. According to Sarabosing, she has not visited Bulgaria since, but her mother went there to see her grandfather for two weeks in January. “My mom, even when she was in Bulgaria, was like, ‘I don’t want to send you pictures of him because you’re going to be so scared,’” Sarbaosing said. “‘He’s so different.’ So It’s just hard seeing him.”

Fifty-four percent of Americans say cancer has affected their family in some way, according to a 2017 poll by CBS. In light of February’s designation as National Cancer Prevention Month, two students share their families’ experiences with the disease.

Sophomore Chaebin Jung’s life was altered at 9 years old when her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Six years later, just three months ago, her mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer.

“When my grandma got it, I cried,” Jung said. “But then when my mom got it, I felt so shocked I couldn’t even cry.”

According to Jung, the disease’s impact on her loved ones has strengthened her values of hardwork and kindness, inspiring her to do all she can for them. Jung said she is conducting breast cancer research on her own and also plans to volunteer with Susan G. Komen, an organization aiming to end breast cancer.  

“I’ve grown mentally,” Jung said. “It kind of motivated me to study even harder or act nicer or care about my surroundings since my mom was also diagnosed.”

He looked like a different person. And mentally, it just felt like he wasn’t himself or he didn’t care about his body anymore either. He was just kind of letting it take over.

— Gabby Sarabosing

Her mother and grandmother’s conditions enforced the importance of quality time with her family and taught her to be more mindful of others’ feelings, according to Jung.

“You have to care about your surroundings,” Jung said. “For me, I got used to being with my grandma and my mom so often. I sometimes fought with them often, but after they told me they got diagnosed, I feel like I should not make them feel mad or anything uncomfortable, so I just became more mature.”

Junior Gabby Sarabosing faces a similar situation as her grandfather fights stage four lung cancer following his diagnosis from two months ago. Sarabosing’s grandfather is being treated in Bulgaria, where her grandmother is currently visiting him for two months.

“I was in shock, and it just made me really emotional hearing the news,” Sarabosing said. “And then, it’s hard living without my grandparents and my support system that I normally have here.”

Sarabosing said that she has noticed frightening changes in her grandfather post-treatment such as severe weight loss, his condition having taken a toll on both his mental and physical well-being.

“It was scary,” Sarabosing said. “He looked like a different person. And mentally, it just felt like he wasn’t himself or he didn’t care about his body anymore either. He was just kind of letting it take over.”

According to Sarabosing, her grandfather developed the disease after years of being a heavy smoker and drinker, clarifying her stance on substance abuse.

“Definitely in the future, I’m going to be staying away from drugs and things that can cause health issues,” Sarabosing said. “I think people should be aware of what they put into their bodies and just be careful, especially with drugs and alcohol –– it can cause long term effects even if it’s enjoyable in the moment.”

As Jung’s and Sarabosing’s families cope with the diagnoses, time becomes precious and they continue to make adjustments to their daily lives.

“I think just everyone is being more aware,” Sarabosing said. “Everyone wants to be together more just because his time is short.”