Holy Smoke: my sister Carmel on her cancer and her faith

Jan 29, 11:12 AM

This is a picture of my sister Carmel and I having tea a few days after our mother’s funeral. She looks cheerful, doesn’t she? That’s because she was: although we both missed our mother intensely, and always will, we had done most of our grieving before she died, as we watched her tortured by Parkinson’s disease and severe dementia.

Carmel looks well, too. And she thought she was. Ovarian cancer plays that trick on women. The first symptoms tend to be annoying rather than alarming. A few weeks after this photograph was taken, I was reassuring her that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common response to bereavement – which it is. But that’s not what was wrong with her. On November 1, I was sitting next to her in the consulting room at Guy’s Hospital when the specialist confirmed that she had advanced ovarian cancer.

Carmel is my guest on today’s Holy Smoke podcast. Please listen to it. I guarantee that you’ll be surprised by what she has to say. And you will understand why I’m so proud of my sister.

Presented by Damian Thompson.