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My Brother

Michael Cameron Russo

My younger brother, Michael, and I grew up in a relatively similar fashion. We both had (and still have to this day) a solid core group of friends that we grew up with, great educational exposure within the City of Gloucester, and parents that always put us before themselves. If you have ever met Michael, you will know that he is an outgoing young man who loves his hockey as well as his present-day field of boating mechanics. At the current age of 23 years old, Michael is exactly how any 23 year old in his position would act. He works to get by, he goes out on weekends, and he hangs out with friends more than he hangs out with anyone else (do not fret Michael, I was doing the same thing at that age).

However, at the time of my diagnosis, when he was only 20 years old, it seemed that this sustainable and acceptable lifestyle was never going to be established. I completely understand that, at 20 years old in this day and age, a young individual does not need his/her career, relationships, and bank accounts stabilized. However, it is normally recommended that one would have some sort of vision towards what they want, even if that vision was not specifically geared towards one particular interest. Just be motivated to someday find what motivates you. This is what, I believe, Michael lacked at this age, but not anymore.


How My Diagnosis Helped Michael

This lack of motivation was beginning to make my parents a bit nervous, even though they did not deem it necessary to make an action quite yet since, as I mentioned earlier, 20 years old is just too young to demand a fixed future.

All of that would change, however, on the morning of October 31st, 2014.

Undoubtedly, I was told an overwhelming amount of bad news that week of my diagnosis. But do you know who was having just as difficult a time comprehending all of this information as I was? My mother. And why wouldn’t she? She had just found out that her firstborn son was diagnosed with brain cancer at 23 years old. My prognosis, at this point, was unable to be determined. The only thing that was certain was that I was going to have to stay in that hospital until the doctors had come up with an appropriate treatment plan moving forward.

As mentioned in my previous blog, “My Father”, Big Paul stayed in the hospital room with me the entire time. This act of parenthood was also an act of love within my parent’s marriage. My father allowed my mother to go home at night and sleep (which apparently did not occur for more than two hours per night for my poor mother.) This is where my brother enters the picture. Normally, he is not one to show too much emotion to outsiders. However, he instantly took the reigns of my family and took care of my mother during this time of absurdity. He drove my mother back and forth from the hospital every single day that week. After that week was over, it seemed as if Michael was almost reborn into a completely different person.

He had not instantly found a career or relationship. That is simply unrealistic to expect. However, he did find that motivation to look at his own life, while his brother’s life was uncertain. I did not know if I was going to die that day, week, month, year – NOTHING. However, I did know that my brother had grown up considerably during that week.

To my readers, here is the point of this particular blog post – The evolution of my brother, from the beginning of that week to the end, was something that I am so proud of. This is a certain situation where I consider my cancer a blessing, and not a curse. If the price that I have to pay, in order to get my brother to grow up and become motivated to live a purposeful and mindful life, is to be diagnosed with a malignant, inoperable brain tumor; then that is a price that I will pay every single day of the week and twice on Sunday. Thank you cancer, I greatly appreciate it.

Difficult times are usually only difficult because of the perspective that you are taking during that moment. I hope that you, the reader, are able to take my perspective during this situation and apply it to your own lives and your own difficult situations.

I love you Michael.
Stay Mindful.


  1. Kate Desmond Kate Desmond

    Pray that your story will help others find their way.

  2. Erin Avila Erin Avila

    Paul, I too was in Michael’s shoes at a very young age. It definitely shapes who you become as an adult. I live every day thankful for what I’ve been blessed with. I am thankful for every day, the good and the bad. Unfortunately my story didn’t have the same outcome as yours and Michael’s but that’s ok. I had a great brother for 20 years, and I will always have that!! Thank you for sharing your journey, I look forward to reading your positivity. You are a very strong, quiet breath of fresh air.

  3. It’s going to be ending of mine day, except before end I am reading this enormous article to improve my experience.

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  5. Good post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Bless you!

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