Sisterhood & Sistering

Michelle Maturo was a 30 year old mother with a toddler when she was diagnosed with Stage IIIA, triple negative breast cancer in 2015. Determined, she endured a rigorous treatment including five months of chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, and six weeks of radiation. During radiation therapy, the cancer metastasized to Michelle’s skin, resulting in her doctor prescribing an oral chemo, Xeloda, for the following six months. Throughout this process, Michelle was able to lean on two things, her strong faith and an amazingly loyal family member.

It is commonly discussed in the cancer community the lack of support or how the absence of a strong support system affects the individual enduring this process. On an almost daily basis, you can hear cancer patients repeating the phrase “you really learn who your true friends are” during cancer. A surprising majority of cancer patients feel like they do not have a lot of support from family or friends. The feeling of isolation seeks to exacerbate the already heightened emotional turmoil this process inflicts. Luckily, Michelle was able to lean on the love of her sister, and the strong relationship they have.

Kristina Borelli is a 21 year old college student and an incredibly talented artist. She and Michelle have an extremely close bond as sisters. After Michelle’s diagnosis, Kristina took a year off from college to be by Michelle’s side and help her every step of the way. Kristina cooked for Michelle, was there for every doctor’s appointment and chemotherapy session, and provided the kind of love and support every cancer patient so desperately needs during this life shattering experience. So strong was Kristina’s love for her sister, she even stayed in the hospital with Michelle for eight days following her mastectomy, never leaving Michelle’s side. Literally ‘sistering‘ (the act of connecting and supporting the other).

Kristina & Michelle
“I love her beyond words” says Michelle.

Following Michelle’s treatment, Kristina returned to school. For Kristina’s final assignment in her drawing class, she drew a series of pictures which clearly depict not only her talent, but her unwavering love for her sister. The reflections depicted are not just the vision seen by a caretaker, but display the emotion involved in watching a loved one endure such a terrifying and life altering experience. Kristina may still be in school, but her talents as an artist are already well on display.

Kristina’s Borelli’s art depicts the bond of sisterhood intimately.

By Kristina Borelli
By Kristina Borelli
By Kristina Borelli
By Kristina Borelli
By Kristina Borelli

Sisterhood and sistering are two beautiful, meaningful words. Many of us in the breast cancer community become like sisters, in a sisterhood, providing the most unwavering support and understanding like only a sister can. Just reading about Kristina’s selfless love in action is enough to touch your hearts, but when see you the love she conveys through her artwork, it’s impossible not to feel it too. That is a love and loyalty that can be seen with all of our eyes.

You can find Kristina’s Art on Instagram!

This piece was authored by April Doyle, Social Media Coordinator of The Underbelly, which originally appeared on on May 17, 2017

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