StoryCorps: Brothers Support Each Other Through A Cancer Diagnosis — And Dating David Carles and his younger brother Mark Carles are just a year apart in age. When Mark learned he had cancer last year, the men decided to support each other as much as time would allow.
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After A Cancer Diagnosis, Brothers Share As Much Time As Possible, Even On Dates

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After A Cancer Diagnosis, Brothers Share As Much Time As Possible, Even On Dates

After A Cancer Diagnosis, Brothers Share As Much Time As Possible, Even On Dates

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It is Friday, which is when we hear StoryCorps. Earlier this month, 26-year-old David Carles joined his younger brother Mark for this conversation. They grew up on Staten Island and were inseparable. But their lives were upended when Mark was diagnosed with cancer.

DAVID CARLES: When we first found out, the doctor said, he has two or three months left. And I know you love your brother, but there's nothing we can do. And I just remember the whole room went black.

MARK CARLES: Since being diagnosed, I had a massive surgery - sixteen hours, 17 pints of blood. And we didn't know I was going to live.

D CARLES: But then you woke up. And the only way for you to communicate was through sign language.

M CARLES: Yeah.

D CARLES: The first thing that you signed was my name, which was tough, but it meant everything to me.

M CARLES: Thank goodness he taught it to me.

D CARLES: Yeah.

M CARLES: I write down now, all the time, if I was going to die tomorrow, what am I going to do today? And I'd want to spend as much time with you as possible. So that's the most important thing.

D CARLES: I'm trying to milk out every ounce of Mark that I can.

M CARLES: Stockpiling.

D CARLES: Yeah. You know, I've been on multiple dates in the last year. And in my Tinder profile it says, down for a good time. And my brother is my sidekick, and he will also come out on the dates as well. I say you make the date 10 times better. And you also pay sometimes, too, where, you know...

M CARLES: I'm a good date.

D CARLES: You are a very good date.

M CARLES: But they must think you're real strange.

D CARLES: I've got a few different messages that say, hey, is your brother in on it, too? Maybe they think that it's like a package deal.

M CARLES: Well, it is a package deal, but it's a different kind of package.

D CARLES: Right. Exactly, a different kind of package. Yeah. Some understand and some don't. And, you know, the ones that don't - there is no second date.

M CARLES: Before getting diagnosed, you know, I was dating girls. But it's tougher now because, you know, they're attracted to, like, a future. Plus, post-surgery, I woke up with all these scars.

D CARLES: You will find the right girl who will say, hey, that scar is...

M CARLES: Kind of hot.

D CARLES: ...Kind of hot and the sexiest thing I've ever seen in my life.

M CARLES: OK.

D CARLES: You will find that, you know, hopefully, within the next few weeks.

M CARLES: Yeah.

D CARLES: And I would like to get matching tattoo scars with you.

M CARLES: You want to get the cross on your stomach?

D CARLES: I want to get the cross on the stomach. I want to get the little slit on the neck. Every day I wish, you know, we can reverse and switch roles. But there's absolutely nothing I can do, and it eats at me every single day.

M CARLES: I have to carry the cancer, but you have to carry me. And I'm so envious of grandpa, who died at 102.

D CARLES: Yeah. We don't know how much time we have left together. But I'm very happy with the 20-plus years we've had of being brothers.

M CARLES: We're in this together.

D CARLES: We are - no matter what.

INSKEEP: Brothers Mark and David Carles at StoryCorps in New York City. This interview will be archived at the Library of Congress. To have a sibling conversation of your own just in time for Thanksgiving, StoryCorps and NPR remind you to record one. Find out how at thegreatlisten.org.

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