Kate E's Story

My Mother-in-law Sandra

Sandra and family

My husband Brad grew up in the typical suburban street in Sydney’s north-west in the 80’s. The redbrick house, the immaculate garden, the tribe of neighbourhood kids riding bikes in the street- getting in trouble for playing cricket on the front lawn. Happy memories.

His mother Sandra Edwards ran a tight ship. Her house was kept immaculately, with everything in its place - which was no mean feat with a teenage son!

Besides being house proud, Sandra loved to take care of people and family meant everything to her. Many family occasions were spent in the kitchen cooking up a storm with her sister Lyn. Brad’s cousins all remember their Aunty Sandra’s cooking. Her Cherry-ripe Slice and Meringue mushrooms still get a mention at Christmas gatherings- even now all the kids are grown up and have their own families sitting at the kids’ table.

Typically without much fuss, Sandra took herself off to the family doctor in May 1999, as she’d been feeling unwell with a stomach complaint that seemed to have not eased for a while. After a few tests it was found that the humble stomach ache was in fact Pancreatic Cancer.

The situation was made worse by the simple fact that the tumour had wrapped itself around the gastroduodenal artery, which supplies blood to the stomach, duodenum & pancreas- making it inoperable.

Sandra was one of the bravest women I have ever met. Faced with the option of spending what she was told was more than likely only a short few months left of her life in surgery & chemotherapy- which may only prolong the inevitable, and put her family through so much, she decided to let nature take its course and live the rest of her life as best she could.

She and her husband Bill battled through. Each fortnight they visited the naturopath in Manly to work out the next batch of concoctions to ease her nausea- although after tasting those juices I don’t know whether they were the solution or the cause!

One of my favourite memories of Sandra was the day she & Bill met my parents for the first time, Sandra was very unwell, and after lunch we had planned to set her up in our bedroom upstairs so she could rest. Not only did she still make an entire high tea stand full of different sweets, she then instructed that I come up and sit with her so she could recite the recipes to me so I had them for our kids. Who was I to argue!

Christmas that year was a difficult time, Sandra’s condition had worsened and the family had gathered at the hospital for Christmas Day but also to say our goodbyes.

On Boxing Day 1999 Sandra passed away at 57. Only 7 months after her diagnosis. Knowing Sandra, she would have chosen to go on Boxing Day and not the 25th- it was Christmas after all.

I feel very blessed to have been part of my husband’s life in time to have met Sandra and I feel very privileged to tell her story in such a forum.