Loved ones remembered: My sister, my inspiration
Around this time every year, we all think of friends and family who are no longer with us. I was 22 when I lost my younger sister, Sarah. She was 20 years young with an amazing outlook on life. She worked hard to achieve what she wanted, and was always one of those amazing people who could light up a room with her smile.
In the few months prior to her passing, she faced the biggest battle of her life. Sarah hadn't been feeling well and went to hospital with stomach pains. A few years prior, she had had a mole removed - nothing too major - but a precaution.
Unfortunately those stomach pains were diagnosed as skin cancer. The cancer had entered the blood stream, and the prognosis wasn't good. As a family, being dealt that kind of sucker punch is hard. Both Sarah and I were in our final years of university, and our parents were dealing with the reality of likely losing a child.
What happened after that showed the shear strength of Sarah. She was adamant she was going to finish her university degree so continued to attend lectures. When the doctor's mentioned chemotherapy, Sarah made sure it didn't clash with her university timetable. Often she would go from one to another. You couldn't tell her otherwise, as that was her plan to fight her illness. As she said, she was going to live a normal life.
My parents worked hard to get the best people around Sarah to help her with her fight. Mum and Dad flew to Sydney to discover if there was anything across the ditch to aid the chances.
About a month in to her fight, the cancer had spread, and Sarah was forced to give up university. We had to break the news that there was no more we could do. She simply said: "That's ok, but I'm still gonna fight it if that's ok."
The last conversation we had as two siblings was a discussion about a mate's 21st birthday the following Saturday night. I said that I would say 'hi' to everyone for her, and take some photos. She told me she would make it to the party, regardless of how she felt. Unfortunately she passed away on the Saturday morning. Our friend shared her party with Sarah's memory.
Sarah's influence on my life is huge. I see her smile in my own daughter and I see her strength and inspiration in everything I do. Her actions at the end of her life serve as a reminder to my family that real strength isn't physical, it's about how you face adversity and deal with life's problems.
Sarah, you will always be missed. Your friends miss you, and so does all your family. I hope you and mum are up there together shining down on all those who are facing the same battle you went through. Love you always, David.
View all contributions
Should we change New Zealand's flag?Related story: (See story)