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  • lost my twin sister 4 weeks ago



    4 replies

    Hi all,

    My twin sister passed away 4 weeks ago at the age of 37 after an 8 month battle with stomach cancer.  In addition to that, shortly before she died we discovered that her cancer was due to a rare genetic mutation that myself and our mum also have.  I am waiting to have preventative major surgery done otherwise I will end up down the same road.  I feel like my life has been taken away too.  I have a young son who is the only reason I haven't taken my own life so far in this hideous journey.  I haven't been able to return to my job yet either, I had only just returned from maternity leave when my sister was diagnosed and had managed to return for a few months before she died.  

    I am getting so much pressure from my husband and my relatives to return to work.  They think it will do my good, but they don't understand that I feel like I have lost my ability to work too.  As I am a healthcare professional I don't want to be in that environment ever again and feel like resigning and walking away from my career.  I am under so much pressure to return and feel like they don't understand why I can't.

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  • Support

    Edited by Support 6 years ago

    Hi Emmabw.


    I am so sorry to read about the recent loss of your sister at such a young age. It is understandable that you are concerned about your well being given the news of the genetic mutation that is running in your family.


    You say that your young son is the only reason you haven’t ended your life so far. Is anybody aware of how you are feeling? If you are feeling suicidal, you might be scared or confused by these feelings and talking about them is not always easy. There is help and support available. Many people tell us that talking can be beneficial. If you would like us to contact you please send a private message with a contact telephone number.


    If you are not ready to talk about these feelings you may find this information helpful:


    We are aware that sometimes people are offered counselling prior to genetic testing. Was this something you were offered?  The news you have been given must naturally be challenging to deal with and I can imagine having a healthcare background may have given you more insight to the possible ‘what ifs’. If you feel that counselling support would help at all you could ask the health care professionals involved in your care for a referral.


    You express concerns about returning to work, do you feel that you can discuss this with your line manger? Many workplaces provide access to an employee assistance programme which would give you access to emotional support (this would be kept confidential from your employer), your HR department or line manger should be able to advise you of this.

    If you would like to discuss your situation in more detail or need a listening ear, please call our Freephone Support Line on 0800 090 2309, or you can get in touch with us through our web chat function here:  

    Best wishes



    Marie Curie Support Line

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  • emmabw


    Everyone knows how I feel, its just that there is nothing that can be done to improve it.  I did have genetic counselling but as I knew that this was coming I knew what I had to do to save my own life.  I have a psychotherapist that I've been seeing for a while now, I do find that work quite helpful.  I don't feel that there is any point in talking to those close to me as either they too are struggling with grief or they just don't understand how I feel.  I feel that there is pressure to just carry on as normal as if nothing has happened, but for me everything is changed and will never be right without my sister by my side.  I don't feel that I will ever be able to work again.  My line managers and occupational health have been quite supportive and good over this whole period and they have put everything in my court without pressure to return.  

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  • Support

    Hi emmabw


    Thank you for coming back to me.


    I’m glad to read that you have some support in place that you have found helpful such as seeing your psychotherapist.


    Everyone grieves differently, in a way that is completely unique to them. Some people feel comfortable talking to family about their feelings, where as others prefer to reach out to those that aren’t directly involved, such as through a helpline like ourselves.


    Losing a loved one can have an impact on the entire family and it can be common to feel a pressure to carry on as normal. It’s important to let yourself grieve for as long as you need to. We feature information about grieving in your own way that you may find useful here:


    We often hear that getting support as you cope with your loss can be helpful too. We feature information on our website about getting support during bereavement here:  


    If anybody reading this can also offer emmabw any information or support of their own too, please feel free to join in with the conversation.


    Best wishes




    Marie Curie Support Line Team

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  • LadyB

    Hi emmabw,

    I myself am a healthcare professional and I totally understand when you say you can't think of going back to work and looking after sick people. I'm not in the same situation as you, but I understand the feeling that a change of profession may be needed. My experience wasn't my sister but it was my mum. She also had stomach cancer and died after 3 months of diagnosis. I couldn't bare the thought of working as a nurse again. I took time off and only went back to hand in my notice. I had decided to change my line of work, possibly work in a shop with "well" people. When I returned to work my boss was off that week, so I thought I'd give myself a week, then resign. In that week I realised this job was for me, and I could use my personal experience to make me a better nurse, and understand what families were going through on receiving bad news, or prognosis's. I asked to make sure I didn't look after a patient with cancer until I was ready. There was a nurse in charge who didn't know I had asked for this. She allocated me this type of patient. I tried that shift to see if I could do it. That day changed my mind. I felt I really should stay in this job, as the junior nurses who hadn't experienced traumatic times didn't understand (no fault of their own) what this family were going through.

    My advice if it is ok to give, is to speak to your employer, explain your thoughts about possibly leaving, possibly changing role, but go back once or twice a week, and see how you feel. Ask them what your options are. At the moment the way your mind is, you may not be ready. But don't be hard on yourself. Your boy loves you unconditionally.

    My other way of coping was to take up a few types of exercise. I'm still addicted to that now. I have undertaken several overseas treks in aid of Marie Curie. My children are a bit older than your son. But even a uk trek, fresh air. There's nothing like the feeling of being at the top of a mountain, sitting, looking out and either screaming, shouting, or just thinking. Best of luck with whatever you decide. x

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