Michael and Gemma

Michael's story of his sister, Gemma, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010.

26 February 2016

My name is Michael. My sister Gemma was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at 27 years old, and passed away in August 2010.

It was April 1st 2010 when my family and I were shuffled into a small room adjacent to the ward where my sister was. We were told that she had pancreatic cancer and it was likely she would pass away in the next 7 days. She had been in hospital since January of that year, and till then the doctors had no idea what was causing my sister’s illness. Not until it was too late did they scan for any sign of tumour and it was then they found the route of all the trouble.

Unfortunately by this stage in the illness my sister was in such a weakened condition that the doctors decided using chemotherapy would simply be too much on her body, and told us that there was nothing they could do for her aside from keeping her comfortable.

My sister defied all expectations of the doctors and managed to survive 5 months after her diagnosis. In that time we moved her to 3 different hospitals and a hospice. She couldn’t go through much treatment as the cancer was very severe and she had little strength left. Gemma eventually asked to be brought back home where she could rest in a quieter environment.

The last few weeks of her life were incredibly peaceful, lying in a room surrounded by family members and more flowers than a florist could dream of. In those weeks my mum did everything for Gemma, she washed her, fed her, clothed her and gave Gem all her medicine. Gemma passed away on August 8th 2010 with both myself and my Mum sitting beside her. After everything, I couldn’t have asked for a more peaceful way for her to go.

The recovery for myself and the rest of the family is still going to this day and I don’t honestly think it will ever go away. For a few years it took a very heavy toll on me. Even now, almost 6 years on, I still have very bad days where I miss her so much that it hurts, but then I remember the fun that we had and her laugh and slowly I smile to myself because she may be gone physically but I will always hold her in my heart. She’s my guardian angel now.

February 2016