Today will always be my sister’s birthday, even though she’s gone. She would have been 41 today.
I remember the day this photo was taken. She’d started feeling unwell around July. At first the doctors weren’t sure what was wrong. But eventually I heard – a brain tumour. One of the nasty types – fast spreading, inoperable. She was just 32 and had never been a smoker or a drinker, never used a mobile phone… had been a runner, always fit, a vegetarian or vegan for most of her life.
When I met up with her at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Arts Cafe that day in October I was shocked by how much weight she’d already lost. She joked that she had the “most expensive hairdresser in Sydney”, since her pixie cut was the result of her neurosurgeon removing a large piece of the tumour that was pressing on some important parts of her brain. The surgery was never going to be a cure, though, and she made the decision not to have radio or chemotherapy. She wanted to live the life she had left.
Sadly, it wasn’t long before she couldn’t manage in her own flat anymore, and she moved into Sacred Heart Hospice, part of St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. Mum and Dad pretty much left their house in Wagga and moved to Sydney to be with her.
She was so clever, so funny, so brave. She celebrated her 34th birthday with a party at Sacred Heart with many friends and with family around her. And then a month later she was gone.
Jennifer Patricia Miller (“Nif”)
18 January 1971 – 19-Feb 2005