One of the most important things I have done during these months of isolation has been to scan all my old photographs. It wasn't a quick job: apart from my own pictures I had collections which had belonged to my Grandmother, my Mother, and my only sister, Gillian.
I'm nearly nine years younger than Gillian and we were never particularly close. She went away to college when I was only nine and although she came home for holidays and for her first year of teaching, things were never the same. She married and had a son. Sadly she was later divorced and had to make her own independent life again.
Back in 2000 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was very ill,. She spent a week on life support, a further week in intensive care and then a week in hospital before coming to stay with me to give her chance to recover. For the next six months she lived with me part-time while she had chemotherapy but she managed to get better. As she realised that she might have less years ahead of her than she had hoped, she decided to fulfil a few ambitions.
|Gillian and I aboard Independence of the Seas, 2000|
Gillian had cancer twice more. The first was breast cancer which was caught very early and the problem was resolved by surgery alone. The second, sadly, was a secondary from the original ovarian cancer and was incurable so I moved in with her for nearly a year to care for her. It was a year when we were closer than ever we had been in our lives.
Gillian did one very important, but very sad, thing for me. Because she got ovarian cancer (as did two of my cousins), I had genetic screening. It was discovered that I have a faulty BRCA2 gene so I had surgery to minimise my cancer risk. I will never know if cancer would have killed me, but I do know that I have far greater peace of mind than I would otherwise have had. I am two years older than she was when she died.
Thank you, Big Sister