This was the subject on the emails I would communicate to my friends, as it became obvious that our lives, as we knew it, would change. I knew I needed to be around and support my family and that my life needed to be on hold.
I was the baby sister who didn’t get married and have a family so both my sisters’ families were mine. I was the fun loving aunt who saw life through rose-coloured glasses and used humour as my coping mechanism. My sisters would always be there looking after me. Rochelle’s diagnosis changed all that and I now had to grow up. I had to do my best to be there for everyone, especially mum and dad.
There were so many times through Rochelle’s journey that it all felt quite surreal and I kept thinking this can’t be happening to my big sister. Rochelle has so much to live for. A wonderful husband, two beautiful daughters, two admiring sons-in-law and, her pride and joy, her gorgeous grandson. Her family meant everything to her and she wanted so much to live. While we always tried to enjoy the times we spent together I would sometimes lapse and think ‘what are we going to do without her infectious laughter, her bossy tone, her love of life and family and most of all her presence’.
Rochelle knew I was struggling to hold back my tears so there were times when she didn’t say things around me. I was the sister that she couldn’t cry with so most of the time Rochelle poured out her feelings to Isabel. I was the sister that gave her massages and rubbed her back. There was one time when Rochelle had an appointment with Dr Goldstein, her oncologist, and Danny was away for the day so I went with her. She wouldn’t let me go in with her. She said she didn’t want me to cry.
There was however a time when I didn’t cry, at least not around her and her family. When Rochelle was wheeled back to her room after her first surgery to try and insert a stent in her bile duct she was in agony. I was there with her husband Danny, Sara and Jessica. Danny had to leave the room as he struggled to see his wife in so much pain and the girls were also struggling. I held Rochelle’s hand and stroked her hair while comforting her (without crying). It took all my strength and when I left I couldn’t hold back the tears and cried in my car while driving all the way home.
I will never forget the times when it was just the three sisters sharing some precious time together. Rochelle made us promise to look after her girls, her grandson and all future grandchildren. She would say ‘make sure my grandchildren know about their nana’. Teach them to always give 100% in everything they do. That was the teacher in her and I can still hear her saying to her grandson Liv, when he was screaming as babies do, “inside voice Liv”.
They say that having a child around is the perfect medicine for any kind of illness and you would only have to see Liv with his nana Rochelle to understand its true meaning.
Rochelle was not only my big sister, she was my hero, and I loved spending time with her and her family. Rochelle, Isabel and I were as close as sisters can be, we would talk to each other most days, have coffee together every other day and just did what sisters are supposed to do support and love each other.
I miss Rochelle terribly but have comfort in what we are doing with #PurpleOurWorld. I know that Rochelle would be happy and proud of us.