“It’s certainly different without you around.”
For Heritage Park woman Sarah Heath, losing her father to cancer was one of the hardest things she’d ever experienced.
Roger Kettley was a beloved family man from Park Ridge who lost his battle with cancer in February 2020, one week after his 70th birthday.
Roger, who was otherwise healthy and fit, was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel and liver cancer in 2015 right before he was supposed to go on holiday with this wife of 48 years, Gill.
“They were about to go on a 6-month overseas holiday because he’d just retired,” Mrs Heath said.
“Within two days of being due to leave for this amazing holiday, he was in having surgery.”
The next five years meant a vicious cycle of treatment, including chemo and radiation which eventually left Roger immobolised.
Watching him suffer was traumatic for Sarah and her close-knit family.
“You’re also living through it as well … seeing them being in pain, the weight loss, how ill they are -it’s just devastating. It’s so hard.”
Doctors estimated Roger’s diagnosis gave him a 12% chance of living for 5 years.
He survived for 4 years and 9 months before passing away last year.
“By the time Dad passed, he was riddled with it,” Sarah said.
Sarah said the death of a loved one isn’t something you “get over,” but rather something you learn to live with.
She remembered Roger as an amazing father who gave her the best upbringing.
“He was very optimistic; he always saw good in people,” she said.
“He enjoyed socializing, he was a people man, and he was very much a family man.”
Roger was very handy and creative and always willing to help with projects.
Sarah turned to exercise and running to help with her mental health and found comfort in her family.
In March 2020, Sarah ran a total of 81km over the month in the March Charge fun run, raising a total of $1516 for Cancer Council research.
She was grateful to her workplace at Choice Dental in Browns Plains for being supportive and accommodating during those times.
“They were amazing – there aren’t a lot of workplaces that would have been so flexible,” she said.
She encouraged other people in the community caring for someone with a terminal illness to cherish one another, and to talk to people about it.
“Talking about what you’re living through really does help,” she said.
“Know that you’re not alone, and other people might be going through the same thing.”