My twin sister, Lauren, was diagnosed at the age of 28 with Stage 4 Bowel Cancer. I don’t think I will ever forget that day, it was second most heart-breaking day of my life, the most heart-breaking day was when she died at the age of 29.

Lauren knew that something wasn’t right for a long time and she saw multiple doctors before she received her diagnosis. Most doctors thought it was psychosomatic and she was fobbed off until she pushed for a biopsy on a lump in her neck, and by then it was too late.

As a family, we didn’t want to give up hope, so she still went through chemotherapy as surgery wasn’t an option. Watching Lauren go through chemotherapy was horrible. She was the strongest person I’d ever met but the side effects of the chemo were just too much for her, so she decided that her quality of life was more important.

She died peacefully at home about 6 months after stopping chemo and all I can say is that cancer is the cruelest thing anyone can go through.

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But throughout everything, Lauren remained resilient and calm.

Lauren’s strength and determination to fight her cancer completely blew me away, she was so positive and beautiful and she used her last few months of living capturing the beauty of this world through her photography.

I’m blessed that I got to call her my twin sister and I want to use her story to remind people to listen to their bodies and push with your doctor if something doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t matter what age you are, how fit or healthy you are, bowel cancer doesn’t discriminate and if found early, it is treatable!!

This International Womens Day, I want to celebrate Lauren’s memory as well as the strong, supportive and beautiful women in my life that constantly lift me up.

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