Roma's Story - A star for my dad and brother

In this blog, Roma talks about how The Royal Marsden has supported her and her family through her brother and father's cancer journeys, and why 'Celebrate a Life' is so important to her.

Our Celebrate a Life 2021 tree with gold stars
Roma and her brother Rajesh

My brother's story

In 2000, my brother Rajesh was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST). He was referred to The Royal Marsden for major surgery where tumours in his stomach, pancreas, and spleen were removed, but two months later it was discovered that cancer had also spread to his liver.

His consultant told him about a chemotherapy drug that was being trialled at the hospital. It gave us all so much hope.

Without this trial, we were told that Rajesh had six or seven months left. Finding out he had a place on this trial was a huge relief to us all. 

Thanks to this trial, the tumour didn't grow again for eight years. In 2010 scans showed cancer had spread considerably and we were told that nothing more could be done. 

Rajesh wanted to be home for those final days and The Royal Marsden sorted everything. Within hours of him leaving the hospital, we had a bed and a nurse to help look after him. He died aged 52 surrounded by family. 

I find comfort in knowing their stars are shining down on us from above and that by taking part in this beautiful event, we are doing something positive to support others. 

Roma, Supporter
Roma Sharma and her father, Krishan

My father's story

In 2015 was given a lot of tests by his doctor who thought his kidney function was low. But months later, after a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, it was discovered he actually had prostate cancer, which had already spread.

Following this discovery, Dad received treatment at a local hospital for just over two and a half years but when scans showed this was no longer working, The Royal Marsden once again gave our family hope. When he was referred to The Royal Marsden, Sutton in April 2018 for further treatment it felt like a miracle.

Thanks to the chemotherapy and radiotherapy he received, we were given another year and seven months with Dad. In August 2019, scans showed the cancer had become aggressive and had spread to his bones. The treatment was no longer working and the team at the hospital had done everything they could. 

Dad started to receive palliative care through a hospice, but even up until he died, he was able to come to The Royal Marsden to see a dietician and was also offered massages to help make him more comfortable. He was always treated so well. 

Dad died at home in November 2019, a couple of weeks after his 90th birthday. 

Celebrating them both

I can't thank The Royal Marsden enough for giving me and my family so much more time with them both. Each year I take part in Celebrate a Life to say thank you to this wonderful hospital which will always have a special place in my heart. Naming a star for both my Dad and brother means a great deal to me.

I find comfort in knowing their stars are shining down on us from above and that by taking part in this beautiful event, we are doing something positive to support others. 

Written by

Roma Sharma has taken part in Celebrate a Life since 2011. She names a star in memory of her dad, Krishan, and brother, Rajesh, to thank The Royal Marsden for giving her more time with them both.

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