Everyone has a story to tell. We all have little nuances, quirks and characteristics that makes us us. That includes people with lung cancer. They are so much more than their diagnosis.
Our #HeadHigh campaign gives people the opportunity to share their story, or their loved ones story, so people finally start to see who this awful disease is affecting. The stigma surrounding lung cancer and its links to smoking is just a prejudice that obscures the real issues. It’s a way of avoiding having to deal with one simple truth – nobody deserves to die of lung cancer.
This is Diahann Lyn Camilleri story, told by her beloved daughter, Kirsty:
“My mam. She was so full of wisdom. I swear she knew the answer to everything. Or, if she didn’t, she knew how to bluff her way through it.
She was kind and funny, strong and stern. We affectionately nicknamed her ‘the dragon’, a name adopted by the students in her library too. She was there for anyone, always able to offer sound advice. She was a nurse until just before she had me, something she and we were so proud of and often wished she had gone back to it.
She was at her happiest when she was surrounded by family. She was the centre of our family – the homemaker and so fiercely protective of all four of her children. She was house-proud, had a particular way of folding towels – something not all of us have perfected.
She wasn’t fond of cooking, hated flying, loved Eastenders and only watched BBC1. She didn’t drink a lot but did like the odd Baileys, especially at Christmas. She was so proud to be Welsh, could speak it fluently and obviously loved the rugby.
And she had lung cancer.
There are so so many happy memories – day trips as a kid up to Aber Falls, Blackpool, Southport and Llandudno but it’s the endless nights sat on the sofa, side by side, watching BBC1 dramas that I look back on and miss the most. The house just feels so empty without her.Kirsty’s mam, Diahann, was the heart of her family
She was diagnosed in April 2015. She had been having secret appointments with her GP and oncologist; she didn’t want to shatter the illusion that she was invincible. They found an orange-sized tumour on her left lung.
We were all so positive from the start, determined to get on with it and get over it. She was so strong and positive. She never complained and we all truly believed she would get through it.
But she didn’t. We had her for 18 months and now all I’m left with are our memories.
There are so so many happy memories – day trips as a kid up to Aber Falls, Blackpool, Southport and Llandudno but it’s the endless nights sat on the sofa, side by side, watching BBC1 dramas that I look back on and miss the most. The house just feels so empty without her.
This will sound odd but the memories I cherish the most are not actually all that happy. They are the ones when I was small, maybe 7 or 8. I was plagued by night terrors. I’d wake in the middle of the night screaming. Mam would climb into my tiny single lower bunk bed, hold me tight and rock me back to sleep. She would whisper in my ear, telling me everything was going to be okay and that she loved me. It was probably through gritted teeth at 3am but, to me, those times were precious.
I get them even now at times of stress and I long to see her creep into my room and hold me tight. She was my best friend and I miss her more than anything.”