My Brother and Dad Both had Cancer


My phone rang and I was told ‘Your brother has cancer’… words you never expect to hear. My brother Taylor was 15 when he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.

The only way he knew anything was wrong was because he had pain in his knee. Our family thought nothing of it, my dad was a mechanic and my brother was his apprentice, always on the go and riding motorbikes, so we thought he’d just bumped his knee… wow, were we wrong!

In Nov 2004 the dreadful diagnosis occurred. Nine months of hell were to follow.

3 days on, then 5 days off, then 5 days on and 3 days off. Harsh, raw chemo… hair loss, vomiting, nausea, and basically a family of four living in a hospital ward… then, finally it was over. No more chemo, no more blood tests. Tay came home for good and was better than ever!!! We thought that’s it, over and done with.

Little did we know the worst was yet to come. In June 2006, not long before my 21st birthday, Taylor was unwell again. He was having trouble breathing, he couldn’t keep food down and was lacking energy. Back to the hospital to see what was happening. They had no idea what was going on, so they’d fix him up with some oxygen and send him home.

Then all of a sudden in August it got very serious very quickly.

Tay couldn’t breathe. He was rushed by air ambo to a hospital in Sydney as the chemo had caused my brother’s heart to fail. He had cardiomyopathy and his heart couldn’t pump enough blood to keep his heart going, then because his heart was failing everything else was shutting down – his lungs, kidneys, liver etc.

The doctors finally had a solution. They inserted an LVAS assistant which is basically a 3kg bag attached to his body that pumped his heart for him. It didn’t matter what he had to endure he was so happy that he could breathe. So, after 3 months in Sydney (my family is from Newcastle, so travelling 2 hours to Sydney every weekend for 12 weeks was gruelling as well) he came home, better than ever.

We thought life was good.

He got his licence, bought yet another motorbike, and was back at work and loving the girls!! A few pretty big infections along the way never stopped my brother, until one night in August 2008, Tay got up at about 3am but he couldn’t move. This poor kid had a stroke. What more could someone go through!?

Off to the hospital again. This time he’d had enough. He was paralysed on his left hand side and his eyes said it all. He was done. He slipped away at 8am on the 28.08.08. His funeral was heartbreaking. I have never seen so many people crying and paying tribute to such a great mate.

My dad was the most affected.

You see, my brother and my dad were so similar: the same soul almost. Into music, cars, bikes, anything that moved or had an engine. Dad was lost without his best mate. I had to step in as daughter and son, going on the bike with dad and trying to keep the family together as much as I could. We got through the first Christmas, then, all of a sudden in April 09, my dad had back pain and wasn’t well. It was very unlike my dad to get sick, he had a cast iron stomach. So we were off to the doctors only to be told, “you have lung cancer”.

How did this happen? How could we go through it again??? Why!?

I guess you never answer those questions

Dad immediately said, “I’m not having chemo. I refuse to go through what my son went through”. So we had 3 months of us having the time of our life – day trips, lunches, bike rides, best of mates. Then, suddenly in July 09 Dad couldn’t breath. Oh oh I thought, I’ve been here before!! So we went off to the hospital again.

Dad couldn’t look after himself anymore.

So into a Hospice he went. Mind you, kicking and screaming the entire way, yet always upbeat and joking. Things seemed to be going well until all of a sudden he didn’t want to eat anything. The only thing I could get him to drink was strawberry milkshakes. I knew he was suffering, and my visits were for usually 2 hours per day, which was very hard on my fiancé and I. Sadly, in October 2009, just 13 months after my brother’s death, my Dad passed away.

I have had a tough few years, but I learned more than in the last 20 years.

I have learned that life is precious, and to cherish every moment with your loved ones. Also, that when someone dies they don’t die, only their physical body does. I know my boys are with me everyday, running amok and keeping me safe!!

Shine on my boys.

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