Today is my sister’s birthday.

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


3 Replies to “Today is my sister’s birthday.”

  1. Hey Caitlin – I didn’t realise you’d lost your sister and I was sorry to hear it. Brain tumours are such a sad way to go. When Mum died 3 years ago she had dementia, caused by a range of mini strokes but there was also a growth in her brain the doctors discovered. She was fine until the diagnosis and then she went downhill so quickly. We were never sure if the tumour had any input into her condition but I have always assumed it did. I’m not sure if you remember – or maybe I never mentioned it – but my sister passed away in a car accident when I was only 10. She was 22. Even though it was so long ago it is still hard to think about at times but I do every now again just to keep her memories alive 🙂 Anyway, I just thought I’d share that little bit and let you know that I’m sending kind thoughts your way because I’m sure that while it is nice to remember her, it makes you are more than just a little sad thinking about your sister.

    1. Thanks, Audrey – a sucky club to be a member of, the \”I\’ve lost a sister club\” – but nice to remember them. It must have been really tough watching your Mum go downhill so fast like that, too.

  2. I am so glad you are able to remember your sister with such love. Brain tumours are horrid, our Kinder teacher had one and in no time at all she was gone. Your sister looks nice!!

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