In 2008, Alex’s twin brother Andy died of liver cancer at the age of 13.
Andy was just eight when he was first diagnosed with liver cancer. After moving from Sierra Leone to Australia as young boys, Alex and Andy were playing on the trampoline when Alex noticed something.
“His stomach wasn’t the same as it was the day before” says Alex.
Soon after, their lives would be turned upside down by Andy’s liver cancer diagnosis.
Alex remembers Andy as just a normal kid
While most kids were going to school every day, Andy was travelling to and from hospital, dealing with chemotherapy and losing his hair.
Being so young, Alex didn’t know what cancer was – he’d never heard of it. But he knew his brother was going through something serious when he visited Andy in hospital.
“Andy had to have chemo which meant that he lost all of his hair. He had a tube in his chest to help him breathe; as long as I remember he had that tube on his chest”, Alex remembers of their primary school days.
Despite this, Alex also remembers how Andy was just a normal kid.
Alex recalls, “When he came home, Andy would play sport, and everything was sweet – just like a normal kid again.”
Andy loved sports
As they grew older, Alex began travelling more and more for sport, while Andy continued with his treatment.
By the time they were in high school, Andy had been going through cancer treatment for over three years.
“The nurses and doctors at the school and the hospital took care of Andy while he was there”, says Alex.
Despite his cancer, Andy still played every sport he could, and during his last days, he even wore a different jersey every day for every team he liked – from the Sydney Roosters to Manchester United.
Remembering Andy’s final days
Before Andy had to return to the hospital, they celebrated their birthday at home, which is something Alex remembers fondly. “It was amazing, we had all of our family and friends there and were able to be at home”, says Alex.
During those last days in hospital, Alex visited Andy every day, but on his final visit, he was confronted with the screams and cries of his brother. “I couldn’t watch it”, remembers Alex.
The next morning Alex was told that Andy had died during the night.
It wasn’t until he saw his family members crying at the hospital, that Alex recalls, “that’s when it hit me. Andy passed away. I walked up to his bed and he was just lying there with his eyes open. I walked up, looked at him and closed his eyes. I started crying a little and walked out.”
Andy was such a special, generous human being
Despite his incredibly difficult experience, Alex also remembers Andy for his generosity. Before he died, Andy raised a huge $20k for cancer.
“He raised it all by himself, and no one knows how he did it”, smiles Alex.
In 2022, Alex took on his own challenge to raise funds for a cancer free future and honour his brother. Alex got active with his friends and family for a workout and raised an impressive $3,000.
With 1 in 2 Australians expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, all of us will be affected by cancer in some way.
If you’re inspired to shave your head, host a trivia night or walk across Australia, Do It For Cancer makes it easy for you to create your own fundraiser & make a difference.