I am a nurse and a midwife, a daughter and a sister.
As a health professional and as a sister, I’ve learned that everybody’s journey is different and that everyone needs love and support.
My big brother Dean lost his life to bowel cancer at the young age of 26.
It was fast, aggressive and the worst thing I’ve ever had to witness.
He was taken away from us just 8 months after diagnosis.
I have treated many wonderful people in my profession, but my greatest honour was nursing my brother during his final weeks of life as he received palliative care at home.
He was and forever will be my favourite patient.
As Dean's cancer progressed, his physical-self deteriorated.
It was so heartbreaking, watching someone I loved so much look so ill and not himself.
People often think that bowel cancer is an “old person’s disease,” but bowel cancer affects people of all ages.
The thing I am so truly thankful for was that Dean’s mental-self didn’t deteriorate – he stayed cheeky until the moment he passed.
This was a big blessing amidst the pain.
As brother and sister you are supposed to continue growing up as adults together – to watch each other become parents and become ‘Auntie’ and ‘Uncle’ to each other’s children.
We were supposed to continue to be part of each other’s lives.
It breaks my heart that Deano will not be here to share those moments with me.
My heart also breaks for my Mum and Dad who have lost their beautiful baby boy.
But we are very lucky to have the support of Dean’s friends, who were so great to grow up with, and who have been such a wonderful support through everything.
After Dean passed away, they joined together and created ‘Deano’s Bearded Stallions’ as a way to honour Dean’s legacy and raise awareness about bowel cancer.
Since that time, I have supported their team.
In place of something so tragic, they have created a meaningful way to celebrate and honour Dean’s life and his untimely passing.
Our family feels so blessed that Dean’s mates have continued this tradition, showing their love and support while raising awareness and funds to help beat this disease.
I really enjoy watching the boys as they post their beard progress updates and seeing people supporting and donating to their efforts, in recognition or bowel cancer in all ages.
Reading the comments, memories, and thoughts people share about Dean, along with the positive comments they write about the boys’ participation and their progress in Decembeard, fills the spaces of my heart that became empty after Dean's untimely passing.
This Decembeard® I’ll be supporting my brother’s ‘Stallions’ again, as they continue to honour their mate, my brother while raising awareness to save lives.
Sometimes I feel like people prolong visits to health professionals due to their feelings of embarrassment and to avoid an awkward conversation.
But that awkward conversation might be the thing that saves your life.
If you know of anyone going through a hard time medically, it’s very helpful and refreshing if people talk to you about it, ask how things are going, maybe cook a meal and deliver it to help lighten the load.
Support, talking it out and love are mainly what people need.
I know that these are what helped us get through.