October 30, 2018

It’s been about 2 weeks since my hysterectomy and I am healing well. I am still a little sore and puffy, but I am definitely over the worst of it!!! I still have pains, but they are also similar to the pains I have had almost every day dealing with endometriosis. Even though that is not cured from my hysterectomy, the adenomyosis and fibroids are. I wasn’t very nervous for my surgery until about the day before. I have been wanting this for so long, I was mostly excited to finally get this done. My family was there for me, helping ease my anxiety, and fulfilling the duties Aily would have normally done.

My mom bought me my baby, and I brought him to the hospital with me, and he wore my necklace with Aily’s ashes while I was in surgery. My dad took two days off work to help take care of me, the day of surgery and the day after. My dad drove me to the hospital and waited with me until they took me back into surgery. It was pretty funny, prior to surgery, I had to take a pregnancy test, which is pretty standard, but the nurse took one look at my dad, and whispered to me, that she was leaving the cup in the bathroom, and to leave it there when I was done. Ha ha ha, I am sure if I was pregnant, he would have figured it out when they cancelled the hysterectomy!! Then what was even funnier, after surgery when they were giving me discharge instructions, they told me to wait 6 weeks to have sex. I looked over at my dad who was visibly uncomfortable and he was looking around the room, trying not look like he could hear her (even though he was less than 5 feet away from the nurse). Talk about awkward, for both of us! My dad is such a trooper.

Thankfully, I was able to go home that night and didn’t have to stay overnight in a hospital. After spending so much time in hospitals this past year with Aily, that was the last place I wanted to be. My mom who is a nurse, took care of me when I got home, she cooked me food and made sure I was comfortable through the night. My brother also helped take care of me and even bought me a mini fridge so I didn’t have to walk too far to get my water and iced tea. Two days after my surgery, my parents went out of town for a much-needed vacation. Two days after that, my brother went out of town for work, but I wasn’t left alone. My good friend Jessi came into town for 9 days to help take care of me, the house, and the dogs. I had lovely visits from my friends Allison, Heather, Aliesha, and Steve. I want to thank all my wonderful friends and family who sent funny gifts, necessities to make recovering a lot easier, flowers to brighten my day, and pre-made meals; they were life savers!!! I am forever grateful and so very very lucky!!! This was definitely a time when I missed Aily the most (okay, let’s be real, I miss her so much every day), but I am so glad to have had so many people there to help me through it.

foxbaby after hysterectomy

The baby from my mom, I told her how Aily used to always buy me one after surgery! I would have given anything to have her with me that day.

Aily surgery letter 1

Aily surgery letter 2

Past letters from Aily after previous surgeries!!! God, I miss her sense of humor!!!

Halloween costumes

Since tomorrow is Halloween, I wanted to add this cute photo of us as kids in our Halloween costumes.

Seasons Change, Nothing is the Same

October 16th, 2018

I know it’s been a while since I have written a blog post, but to be completely honest, I just haven’t mentally had it in me to write. I have been taking some “me time”, to cope with things, do some traveling, and preparing myself for some big life changes as well.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. I love the cool crisp air, the changing colors of all the leaves, the need for warm and cozy clothes and blankets, but mostly because it is the start of the NBA season. As I am sitting here watching the opening night of this NBA season, I laugh as I watch Shaq, Ernie, Kenny, and Charles banter back and forth with KG who accidentally says SHIT on live TV during the TNT basketball pre-game show. I watch the Boston Celtics kick the 76er’s asses. The Golden State Warriors are receiving their championship rings and raising the banner for being the champions from last season. This is bittersweet for me because watching the NBA was one of mine and Ailish’s favorite things to do. Whether we bought tickets and traveled to watch our favorite teams and players in person, or watched from home, we always cherished watching these games together.

I distinctly remember after Aily had the strokes last May, she was never quite herself again. She didn’t really have her spark anymore, had a flat affect, didn’t initiate conversations, and only spoke when spoken to, except when the NBA playoffs were on. We spent a lot of time in the hospital her last few weeks, and so we watched as much basketball together while we were there. She would always pat her hand on the bed to signal me to lay next to her and watch the games. It was during the games I would see glimpses of the old Aily come back. She would high five me and cheer when our team would do well and would say “shit” or “god damn it” when our team did stupid shit. So, yeah, the start of this NBA season is bittersweet, and NBA basketball will always hold a special place in my heart. Also, court-side NBA tickets were on her bucket list!!! It obviously meant a hell of a lot to her as well. Tonight, as I continue watching Golden State play OKC, I am excited for the new season, but sad to be watching it alone. (Actually, Kieran is nice enough to watch it with me).

Like I have said before, there are lots of things I will have to get used to doing alone and learning to cope with that reality is just as hard. For the last 10 years I have been dealing with endometriosis, adenomyosis, and fibroids, and I have had 3 laparoscopic surgeries to help with symptoms and help treat it. Ailish has been by my side after all these surgeries, with a sweet hand-written letter and a baby (stuffed animal, that’s what we call them) waiting for me when I am in recovery. Tomorrow I am having a hysterectomy to help treat and cure a few of these problems. This will be the first surgery I have without Ailish waiting for me, writing me a funny letter, telling me to hurry up and wake up because she is hungry, and that she has a cute fluffy baby waiting to cuddle with me. Before she was diagnosed with cancer, she always took care of me, was my nurse after these surgeries, my care taker. I miss her every day, but I definitely miss her the most at times like this.

I apologize for not being the most social sister/aunt/daughter/friend at times, not visiting everyone I wanted to during my travels, and not keeping up with my blog, but I am doing my best to cope. I still have good days and bad days, and still learning how to weather these storms. Like clockwork, the seasons change, yet this year, nothing is the same.

pre kindergartenme and aily earl

Always had each other’s backs!!

On Step Forward, Two Steps Back

September 17, 2018

I got home from Georgia on the 12th. It was a much-needed getaway and quality time with my BFF.  It was hard to come home. But during the last hour of the plane ride home, something hit me, like a punch to the stomach, a slap in the face. I was overcome with sadness. This new normal of being without her is here, whether I am ready for it or not. I cried that whole last hour on the plane, thank God for sunglasses and my hoodie. The realization that Aily was not going to be there to greet me when I got back was more than I could take.

It was a big step for me to get on that plane and leave here for two weeks, and I don’t regret a second of it. It truly was the best thing I could have done for myself. I now know that I can be “social” again, be happy, smile, and laugh. I can meet amazing people, and genuinely enjoy life again. However, I felt like I took two steps back when I sat there crying on the plane, paralyzed with sadness and heartbreak. I know it takes a long time to grieve and heal, and honestly in ways I know I will never be the same. Ailish’s death has forever changed me, and I continue to struggle with referring to things as just “me” instead of “us”. I remember soon after Ailish passed, my Dad said, “I can no longer say my girls” and he got choked up and walked away. That broke my heart into a million pieces, as much as we hated it sometimes, I would give anything to be referred to as “the twins” again. I feel like I have spent my life trying to find my own personal identity aside from being a twin, and now that I am forced into this, I am struggling to move on and find my way.

When trying to move on, there are a lot of feelings of guilt, like you are leaving that person behind. I feel almost like I am disrespecting her memory when I am laughing and having a good time. It’s like telling her I didn’t love her enough, or I am forgetting her. I know these are crazy thoughts, because Ailish knew how much I loved her, how much I will always love her, and that I could never ever forget her. But sometimes in that moment, I do feel this way, and I am afraid to move forward with my life.

I know that I have to take things one day at a time, and I am, it’s just these past few days have been particularly difficult. I know there are better days ahead, and that it’s okay to have these shitty days. I just have to keep taking one step forward, no matter how many steps back these heartbroken days set me back.



Aily at the airport in January 2017, on our way to MD Anderson for treatment


Me on the way to the airport with Aily, January 2017, same trip to MD Anderson. I was wearing a mask cause my Dad was sick and I was determined not get his cold.

I miss us being silly like this all the time!!!


My First Getaway

September 9, 2018

I have to admit, since my Ailish passed away in June, I have had a really difficult time trying to adjust. I haven’t spent a lot of time out with friends, avoiding a lot of social activities. This is my first trip away, because I almost felt guilty leaving home, where Ailish and I have spent so much of the past 2 ½ years, and where Ailish passed away. I was afraid to leave her behind. I knew at some point I would need to rejoin society, learn how to move on and travel without my twin. I decided my first trip away would be to visit my best friend who knows me the best, and has been there for me unconditionally through the past 20 plus years. She is currently living in Georgia, so we planned this two week getaway for me. I have to say, it’s the best thing I could have done.

Buttcheeses in Savannah

As my first trip away nears the end, I have had an incredible time out here in Georgia. We have eaten at some incredible restaurants, visited amazing places, met some wonderful people, and spent some much needed BFF time together. I have found moments during these past few weeks where I feel truly happy, and I haven’t felt that way in a long time. I almost wondered if I would ever be able to feel that again. I have met some really good people out here in Georgia, friends of my best friend and her husband. We went out one night for dinner with my best friend’s husband and his friend and wife. We laughed so much at dinner; I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard with people I just met. I met a co-worker of my best friend, who has one of the warmest and funniest personalities I ever encountered. We talked and bonded over tragedy, both knowing the loss of a loved one from cancer. It sucks to meet people who know the heartache and shittiness of cancer, and the devastation it leaves on a family, but it’s also comforting to talk to someone who knows exactly what you are going through.

I have missed my sister on this trip, it was always the 3 of us exploring and eating our way through new cities on our adventures. There was so many times where I would think to myself, Ailish would have loved this, she would have loved this city, or she would have loved this meal we just ate. My best friend had rented a lake house for us this past weekend and out of both bedrooms I had to choose from they both had 2 beds (one room had bunkbeds and the other had two twin beds). It was a stark reminder that I was now alone, that I would have to get used to her not being here anymore. There are tons of daily reminders, even when I am at home that forces me to face this fact. It is inescapable, and another thing I will have to get used to.

Savannah trees

Savannah Trees at night, Ailish would have loved this picture!!!

Spending time with my best friend was just what I needed. We can talk for hours, eat at fancy restaurants, and be just as content sitting in the same room together in silence, or eating at a local fast food joint. No matter what it is we are doing, it’s fun because we are together. This trip with my best friend was just what I needed and it was also the sort of the kick in the pants I needed to get out and find my happiness.

After Ailish’s diagnosis, we traveled the world, made amazing memories, and spent as much time together as we could. Even though we were having some of the best times of our lives, there was always the cancer cloud looming over our heads. It’s almost like I didn’t know how to be really happy anymore, we were always wondering when her health would take a turn, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Well on June 1st, the shoe fucking dropped, and no matter what, no one can ever prepare themselves on how to deal with the aftermath. I know this will be a long journey and it will take a long time for anything to ever feel “normal” again, if it ever does. I just have to learn how to adjust to this new normal. For now, this is just what I needed, two weeks with my best friend to remind me it’s okay to laugh and be happy. I know this is what Aily wants for me too.

NY Oct 2017

In NYC September 2017, me, Aily, Mary!!! Oh yeah, and we allowed my brother to join us!!! Ha ha ha



Flying Solo


Yesterday I embarked on my first trip since Aily passed away. I will be completely honest with you all; I have had really bad anxiety about it for the past few weeks. In two days, it will be 3 months since she passed, and some days it feels like a long time, and other days, it feels like it was yesterday. I have good days and bad days. On the bad days, I constantly replay the last two weeks of her life over and over in my head. I can’t control it, I can’t stop it, and all I can do is weather those storms. Those were the hardest two weeks of my life, the hospital visits, the news that there was nothing else the doctors can do, meeting with hospice, watching Ailish in pain, barely in and out of consciousness the last few days, and the images and sounds of the last few days she had on earth. Those days haunt me; at times they paralyze me with anxiety and overwhelming sadness. At times, I feel like I am suffering from PTSD unable to control the thoughts and anxiety. On those days, I stay in bed most of the day, hoping that tomorrow will be a better day. Thankfully, I have a lot of good days too, where I am relieved she is no longer suffering, and I work to move on with my life because I know that’s what she would want me to do. Yesterday was one of those days, and I got the surprise of a life time!

I had an early flight to Georgia to visit my best friend, Mary. I was up at 3:00 am and at the airport by 4:30 am, an ungodly hour in my opinion (but my best friend is worth it). While I was standing at the gate waiting to board, I hear them get on the overhead intercom and say, “Siobhan McAlorum can you please come up to the podium”. I was like, oh shit, what is wrong? Did something happen to my ticket? I had no clue why they would need to call me up there. As I walk up to the podium, I see a smiling face with fiery red hair (which I absolutely thought looked amazing), it was Ronni and her co-worker Tara there to greet me with a gift basket and to wish me a safe and fun trip. I was shocked, so surprised, and star struck!! I felt like I was meeting a celebrity, or a guardian angel!! Ronni and Tara both said they were touched by my story with Ailish and my blog, and wanted to meet me. We hugged a few times and Ronni told me that they had planned to give this gift basket to Ailish on her first trip, but since she was unable to make that trip, they wanted to give it to me, to make me feel like VIP, just like Ailish wanted. I was so touched, overwhelmed, and unbelievably happy I got to finally meet Ronni. Through our emails, I can feel genuine compassion and friendship, I feel like I know her. But to finally meet her in person, I was almost speechless, mostly in shock that she also got up at an ungodly hour to come and meet me at the airport!!! Her continued kindness, compassion, and desire to fulfill my sister’s wishes amaze me. I feel like Ailish is looking out for me through Ronni! I will forever remember this for the rest of my life. Ronni, thank you so much, you are an amazing wonderful person with such a big heart!!! You deserve the same kindness and love that you give out to this world; you have truly touched my life and Ailish’s as well. Meeting you was the highlight of my month!! Thank you for making my first trip flying solo a wonderful and lovely experience!! Yesterday was one of the best days of my life, and I honestly didn’t think I would ever be able to say that again!


Me and Ronni (yes, it was early, which explains why I look so tired)


I still can’t believe I got to meet her!!!!

gift basket

This kind and thoughtful gift basket was amazing!!!!

Here are some pics of me and Aily when we were heading to California for our Mexican cruise for Christmas 2016. Kieran, my brother had gotten a first class upgrade and an extra one for a guest. He gave them to us. He said, you guys get real silverware in first class!!! We were so excited, this was our only time we ever got to fly first class together (thank you to Kieran for that!)

Me and Aily showing off our silverware, which we then sent these pictures to my brother, who was in coach!!!



Our cheesy happy smiles!!! We always had so much fun together!!!


The Kindness of A Stranger

I actually wrote this blog last Friday, but I sent it to Alaska Airlines to let them know I was writing about their company and employee, and wanted to make sure it was okay with them to share this story. I got the okay this morning, and here is the post:

August 17, 2018

There are so many negative stories in the news, on social media, basically everywhere we turn. I wanted to share an amazing experience that Ailish and I shared with Alaska Airlines and an extraordinary employee of theirs named Ronni. Back in April of this year Ailish had contacted Alaska Airlines to ask them about her account after she passed; where would her miles go, what happens to her Alaska credit card (we both had cards on that account), and also a simple and humble request to see if she could get MVP status for a day, and get a pass into one of their lounges. It was on Ailish’s bucket list to be MVP and travel “VIP” for a day.

Ronni, who was touched by Ailish’s story and diagnosis, worked independently to find out proper channels to grant an exception for my sister. Ronni, after speaking with her supervisors told Ailish that 1 day was not enough and was able to grant Ailish MVP Gold status for the year! I cannot even begin to tell you how happy this made my sister. She cried happy tears!! In her reply email to Ronni, these were her exact words,

April 28, 2018


I am in tears with your phone call and reading this email. Your kindness has left me speechless. I feel like I’ve won the lottery. This is the nicest thing that has ever happened to me. You are an amazing employee and Alaska Airlines is so VERY lucky to have you. I want you to know that I am so touched by your response that I will be emailing Alaska Airlines corporate office. They should know they have an invaluable employee! Not everyone is dispensable. And with all the negative stories with Airlines lately, it will be nice to share such a positive one. You have literally made me feel special and be able to mark something off my bucket list! I will never forget this! Thank you for everything!



My sister then proceeded to send this email to Alaska Airlines corporate office:

April 30, 2018

To Every Alaska Airline Employee,

I have a great feel good story to tell about one of your customer service rep employees. I normally don’t take time out to write reviews, fill out surveys or praise people unless I have had a beyond spectacular or absolutely horrendous experience. The customer service rep is Ronni. I don’t have a last name for her but I do have reference #3771551. What she did for me brought me to tears, filled my heart with so much joy. I want to share my experience with EVERYONE that will listen and I hope they share it. An amazing employee working for an amazing company! There are so many negative stories out there with airlines, it nice to know not all is lost in humanity. I believe that a great company will recognize that not all employees are dispensable. Ronni is invaluable!

I have stage IV stomach cancer that is incurable but it is treatable. I’ve been battling this for 2.5 years and unfortunately the statistics for this diagnosis is less than a 4% chance of living past 5 years. My diagnosis was 1-2 years. While I’m alive I am tying up financial decisions, celebration of life plans, end of life care, and even down to the mundane, what happens to my cell phone account with my family plan, and last but not least my Alaska credit card account that I have my twin sister on my account. I wanted to know what she will need to do after I’m gone to be able to possibly still use the credit card account and that I will be able to transfer my reward miles so that she can travel to grieve and heal after I’m gone. All I did was ask Ronni about my account, my miles and a little bit of my situation. She didn’t even know that this year I had pneumonia in January, blood clots in my lungs in February, I had an allergic reaction to my chemo in March and coded during infusion and was in the hospital for a week. Less than a week later I was back in the hospital from losing half the blood in my body and needing to put a stent in my stomach so that I can eat again. Things were looking dire. I was on oxygen 24/7, using a wheelchair because I was so weak. My oncologist started talking to me about hospice care and DNRs. Today I’m off oxygen, blood clots are healing, I only use wheel chair for long trips, I can eat a special diet and back on a new chemo to continue the fight! I feel like I have a second chance at life.

Sorry for so much detail. I just wanted you to know why what she did means so much to me. I went through hell and she made to feel like I won the lottery. I’ve never had anything so great happen to me before.

My last question to Ronni was if Alaska would give someone MVP status for a day and be able to go into one of the Alaska lounges (I live in WA). On my bucket list was to be MVP and travel “VIP” for a day. I told her that I had to cancel a couple of trips due to my illness, but when I’m allowed to fly again I will be back to booking trips, like I hope to travel to Maui this December with my family for Christmas. Ronni emailed me and called me personally to say that one day wasn’t enough. She talked to her supervisors and they all decided to give me MVP gold status for a year!!! A YEAR?! I hope she doesn’t get in trouble for this. She explained the Alaska lounges operate differently (and I looked and saw a day pass isn’t expensive, had I known that all this time) and I totally understand that. She also told me Alaska was going to give my sister 2000 miles because she has given up the last 2.5 years of her life to be my caretaker (we’re both part of rewards program). I couldn’t believe it! I am still amazed and touched by her compassion and empathy. It’s people like her that give us support and motivation to keep fighting cancer! It was just so surprising and unexpected.

Please know you will have a loyal customer (and all my friends and family). I want to shout from the roof tops and tell everyone but I’m trying to figure out the right words and level of detail I want to share. Please recognize Ronni in some way. I thanked her over and over but she will never know how great she made me feel.


Ailish McAlorum

Unfortunately, Ailish passed away before she was able to use her new MVP Gold status or get her first-class upgrades. I had written an email in June to Alaska Airlines to get the memorial miles and write about how great the customer service was to my sister. I had no idea of what would come next. On August 2nd, I received this email:

August 2, 2018

Dear Siobhan,

You don’t know me, but your sister Ailish spoke so highly of you that I feel like I know you. My name is Ronni and I am the agent who your sister wrote to back in April.

When I got your sister’s email, I was touched and in tears. We get such a wide variety of mail, but it is rare for someone to be so genuine and kind in an email and so I felt truly connected to your sister’s journey and battle. By the time we finished corresponding we both were messaging how we wished we could hug each other in gratitude to one another. She even wrote a very sweet message to our corporate office in thanks. It was probably the kindest thing a guest has ever said.

Ailish had modestly requested for one day to live like VIP. More specifically, she wanted a chance for you and her to travel in first class. Of course she had other concerns she addressed in the Email, but it was that simple request that really humbled me. She wanted to spend that time with you. To enjoy the beauty of traveling with her family and to thank you for taking care of her. She was concerned that when she passed that you would need to know how to merge her miles so that you could still travel and grieve properly and still explore and experience things without her.

My heart broke when I saw that she passed away before getting to travel with you in June.

I cannot express how sorry I am for your loss. I know you were close and I know that no words will come close to the bond you two had.

Siobhan, your sister wanted more than anything for you two to experience first class. She wanted you to be able to travel and even to grieve in peace. in her letter she said “She has given up the last 2.5 years of her life to take care of me and I’d like to take care of her as best as I can, especially after I’m gone. I would like her to be able to travel where she needs to grieve and heal.”

I wanted to honor your sister’s wish and so I have put two Gold Guest Upgrades into your account. You can read more about them here https://www.alaskaair.com/cont ent/mileage-plan/membership- benefits/guest-upgrades, but this will enable you to upgrade to first class like Ailish wanted all along for at least one trip.

I am so sorry to be writing you under such tragic circumstances, but I truly believe your sister would have wanted me to reach out. To make sure that you get that experience that she wanted for you.

Please, if you have any questions about these upgrades or if I can assist your further in any way, let me know. Know that she made an impact even with strangers like me and that I am grateful that I got to know her even if just through phone calls and emails.


Customer Care Representative

For the first time since my sister passed, I cried tears of happiness!!! I cannot believe that Ronni continued to honor my sister’s wishes and reach out to me. She has gone above and beyond for me and my sister. I am crying right now as I type this, because it the kindness of a stranger that has brought a renewed faith in people, a bright light in what has been 2.5 years of hell and looming darkness. Even though Ailish wasn’t able to use her MVP Gold status, I am forever grateful that Ronni made her feel like a Rock star!!! I wanted to share this story because I know Ailish wanted to share it with the world, and because I wasn’t expecting to “meet” such a wonderful, compassionate person, who essentially is a stranger, but still wanted to honor my sister’s wishes. I wish I could give Ronni a big hug and I hope she knows how much she has touched Ailish’s life, and mine! Thank you to Alaska Airlines as well, for allowing your employee to touch the lives of your loyal customers! This is the type of news I want to see, the kind of stories I want to spread! I miss my sister every day, and I know she would be proud of me for sharing this with all of you!!! Life is too short, be kind!!!



On our cousin’s boat in Australia last December. We knocked Australia off her bucket list!!!


We got to pet a Koala in Australia, didn’t even know it was on our bucket lists until we did it!! Look how excited we are!!!




Stomach Cancer Awareness

August 10, 2018


This was designed by my amazing friend Jonathan Sanchez, it was a tattoo design he created for Ailish, until she was advised against getting any tattoos while undergoing treatment.

November is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month – Color is Periwinkle

As stated in a previous post, Ailish was diagnosed in February 2016 with stage 4 stomach cancer.  We cannot definitively pin point when the stomach cancer started with my sister, but now that I know what to look for, I have an idea of when it could have begun. It was spring of 2012, it came without warning and suddenly, every time Ailish ate, she would get this pressure and pain in her upper abdomen just under her diaphragm area. After she would eat, she would double over in pain, and while it didn’t last long, it was severe. This went on for a few months and then seemed to just disappear. I had told her to go to the doctor, but she just brushed it off and thought nothing of it, especially since it went away.

About a year later, November 2013, the pain came back after she would eat, and this time I forced her to go to the doctor. I actually called in sick that day to work, (she was working from home that day), and I drove her to the doctor. The doctor said they thought it was either kidney stones or her gall bladder. We went to get an ultra sound done and they didn’t find anything. Again, this pain went away on its own after only a few months. Everything seemed ok, no symptoms or issues until about a year before her diagnosis. In 2015, she started getting really bad heartburn at night, almost every night. She started taking Tums and other over the counter antacids to try help with this. She would also wake up most nights with this weird salivating thing. She described it like, when you know you are going to puke, and your mouth salivates a lot, but she would never actually vomit.

Around September 2015, I noticed that after eating a small amount of food (like 5 or 6 small bites at most), she would feel extremely full, like she ate a 5-course dinner. Then towards the end of that year, a few times, she got sick and vomited after eating just those small amounts of food. I kept telling her to go to the doctor, and it wasn’t until February 2016, when she found out she was getting laid off from her job, that she made the appointment. Ailish didn’t like to complain, and always tried to “tough it out”.

During her appointment, Ailish described her symptoms to her doctor; the persistent heart burn, the excessive salivating, the getting full after eating small amounts of food, the throwing up of food, and told her of all the antacids she had been trying but weren’t working. Her doctor knowing that she was about to lose her insurance at the end of the month, didn’t want to mess around and made her an appointment with a gastrointestinal doctor. Her doctor also told Ailish that she had already taken all the over the counter meds she would suggest, and since none of them were working, a visit to a GI doc would be a good idea. Both doctors initially thought it could be her gall bladder, just like the previous doctors a few years ago. I remember that day vividly sitting in the GI doctor’s office with her. He wasn’t sure what was wrong, although he didn’t think it was anything serious, but wanted to schedule an endoscopy just to be sure. He couldn’t have been more wrong. I remember after that appointment Ailish asked me, “What if it’s stomach cancer?” (Anytime anything was wrong with us, we used to always say, what if it’s cancer? What if it’s blood clots? What if it’s, whatever crazy disease we were thinking of, almost half joking, never thinking that it would ever be anything that serious.) I was like, “No way, worst case scenario, it’s probably an ulcer, you have been stressed out a lot lately, no way is it cancer.  Don’t even think that!!” Boy, did I have to eat those fucking words. Little did I know that 2.5 years later, blood clots from her cancer would be what ultimately took her from me. I never in a million years would have thought stomach cancer, but at that time, I didn’t know what symptoms to look for, or what tests we should have been asking for. Had I known back in 2012 or 2013, could she have been diagnosed at a much earlier stage? Could she have beaten this? I am not playing the coulda, woulda, shoulda game with myself, because I didn’t know then, what I know now. I couldn’t save my sister, but maybe sharing this information can help save someone else.

I am not a doctor, a nurse, nor a healthcare professional. I am simply a former caretaker who had to learn all this shit, battling this hell called cancer, a long side my sister. Most stomach cancer is discovered and diagnosed at stage 4 because so many of the symptoms can be mistaken for other non-cancerous or less life-threatening gastrointestinal issues. Here are some of the most common symptoms to look for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss (without trying to actively lose weight)
  • Abdominal pain or vague discomfort above the navel
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or bloating after meals
  • Feeling full after eating small amounts of food
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Blood in vomit or stool
  • Swelling or fluid buildup in abdomen
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Low red blood cell count

As you can see, a lot of these symptoms can be misconstrued as so many other things, but if symptoms persist and don’t go away, make sure and go see your doctor. You need to be your own advocate, keep pushing if you feel like you aren’t getting better. Ask for tests like endoscopies if other methods of treatment are not working to relieve your symptoms. These are all things I wish I had known to look for or ask about back in 2012. Since diagnosis, I learned to advocate for my sister, ask a million questions to her doctors, to educate myself on this disease, treatment options, side effects, and how to provide the best care for her.

While cancer does not discriminate, and one can lead the healthiest of lives and still get cancer, here is also a list of risk factors that can cause stomach cancer:

  • A diet high in salty, pickled, and smoked foods
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Family history of stomach cancer
  • Genetics, hereditary factors
  • Helicobacter pylori infection
  • Long-term stomach inflammation
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Smoking and heavy alcohol use
  • Stomach polyps
  • Environmental factors

Here are some great websites where I found this information and to learn more on stomach cancer:


It is a really good idea to get genetic testing done if someone in your family is diagnosed with stomach cancer. Since Ailish was diagnosed so young with stomach cancer (average age is 68) and because we were adopted and do not know our family medical history, she and I both got genetic testing done. While we do not have a known genetic mutation that causes stomach cancer, we do have a variant in our genetic makeup that researchers and doctors do not know yet, if it is a precursor to stomach cancer. There is a lot of new genetic research being done every year and who knows, maybe 5 years down the line, they find that specific variant does not have a propensity to cause stomach cancer. I guess we will wait and see. In the meantime, due to lack of family history, and uncertainty about this variant, they are treating me as if I do have a genetic inclination towards stomach cancer, and I get tests done every year. I get a yearly endoscopy, blood work, and 24-hour urine collection test. I also have an MRI every 2 years. Last year, I had some bad heart burn for about 4 weeks, which I usually never get, so I told my GI doctor, and she scheduled me for another endoscopy just to make sure they didn’t miss anything.  She was well aware of my sister’s diagnosis and didn’t want to take any chances.  I am so lucky my doctors are very proactive about this. I just had my yearly tests done in July, and so far, so good.

I know that raising awareness about stomach cancer was very important to my sister and something she really wanted to do. I will try and do my best to share as much as I can about our experiences, spread awareness, and help others along the way. In the words of my sister, FUCK CANCER!!!!


This picture was taken early 2017, right in the middle of her fight!!!


The Bucket List

August 3, 2018

The Bucket List

I believe that everyone has a “bucket list”, things they would like to do, things they would like to buy, places they would like to visit, before they die. It’s mostly an afterthought, a wish list of things that will eventually be done some time later in life. When one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, such as cancer, the bucket list becomes priority, it’s now a race against time to accomplish the items on that list. I remember that movie a while back, “The Bucket List” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and always thought, when Aily and I get older, we will be just like them. I never thought at age 37, we would be putting together and living out our bucket lists. But knowing the harsh reality of her diagnosis, we knew that time was no longer on our side. Cancer forced both of us to face our own mortalities, knowing that we would no longer be growing old together. We had to start checking things off our bucket lists right away.


This picture was taken January 2017, in San Diego, celebrating our friend Rosie’s 40th Birthday. One of our last adventures together, and one of our last pictures taken together as well.

I knew at some point I would need to turn my sister’s cell phone off, and it took me a little while before I could even bring myself to do it. As I was looking through her phone for anything to download or keep (like pictures, notes, things she wrote, etc.), I found her bucket list. I am old school, and instead of trying to figure out how to forward her bucket list from the Notes on her phone, I took pictures of her list with my phone. Like I have said before, the older I get, the more tech challenged I become! Anyway, I got this to work and I would like to share her bucket list with all of you:

Aily bucketlist 1

Aily bucketlist 2

As you all can see, in the past 2 ½ years, Aily was able to accomplish quite a bit in that short time. When we found out she was stage 4 cancer, she always wondered if there was a Make A Wish for adults with terminal illness. I don’t think she ever did any further research into that, but I did ask her what her wish would be. She told me, she would want her wish to be something for me, something she knew I would always wanted, which is the first item on her bucket list; to go on the Ellen DeGeneres show, to meet her, and spread stomach cancer awareness. (I think she threw in the 12 days of Christmas give away shows she does every holiday season, because I always commented on how cool that would be to be an audience member for one of those episodes.) It warms my heart remembering this conversation we had, knowing that her one wish would be for me. She said, “Siobhan, you gave up your life selflessly for me, to take care of me every day, you cook for me, clean, do my laundry, go to every doctor appointment, chemo appointment, hospital stay, etc. I would want my wish to be something to give back to you.”  Honestly, I never felt like I gave up anything, it was never a hesitation or question, where my priorities would be. It reminds me of the bond we shared and the love that we unconditionally had for one another, I was so blessed to have that in my life, to have a twin sister like Ailish. Even if this wish never comes true, just knowing that she wanted her wish to be something special for me, is more than I could ever want.

Unfortunately, she was not able to complete everything on her bucket list, but I intend to do my best and finish as much as I can for her, in her honor. As I make my way through her bucket list, I will share all my stories and adventures with you. Thank you all for continuing with me on this journey and reading my blog. I know how much Ailish meant to everyone, and I love to share stories, pictures, memories, as well as what the future holds.


Twin Promise – What It Means to Me

July 27, 2018

Twin Promise – What It Means to Me

I wanted to share with you all why I chose the name Twin Promise for my blog. I am not even sure how old we were when we started saying “twin promise” or “tp” (for short) to each other. I remember when we were young there was some TV show with twins who had super powers and when they would activate their powers, they would say “twin powers unite” or some weird shit like that. We knew wanted to have our own saying, so we came up with “twin promise”.  It eventually evolved into the standard measure for us knowing that if we said twin promise or tp, we couldn’t lie to each other. For example, if I were to try on a pair of pants and ask her, “do these pants make my ass look fat? She would say, “no”. If I suspected she was lying I would say, “Aily, tp, do these pants make my ass look fat?” She would have to fess up and say, “okay, they look a little snug, tp tp.”  Her “tp, tp” at the end would mean, okay I am telling you the truth. There wasn’t much we could keep from each other with this tp rule always being in effect!!! There were only a few times when I think we both tried to lie on a “tp”, but we both knew when we were trying to pull the wool over each other’s eyes, and we quickly fessed up. I am telling you, our twin promises would make us fold faster than a polygraph test!!

me and aily on couch

The second reason I chose Twin Promise for the blog, is because before she passed, Aily made me promise her that I would continue to live the life we had always wanted, and that I would live my best life in her honor. She told me to take all the time I need to grieve, but then to pick myself up off the floor and live, really live. She told me to do all the things we wanted to do together, never take a day for granted. If I learned anything in these past 2 ½ years, it’s to live every day like it’s the last. I promised her I would live life to the fullest, travel, make memories, do what makes me happy, and give back to others. As we all know, I cannot ever go back on a twin promise, and I don’t intend to start now!

me and aily black and white


1st Birthday Without You

July 20, 2018

Today I turn 40, today is my first birthday without my twin, Aily. I have a sick almost queasy feeling in my stomach, knowing that it just doesn’t feel right celebrating our birthday without her. I am heart broken all over again, feeling her loss deep in the depths of my soul. I have cried a lot this past week, knowing this day would be hard. I can’t even express how empty and lonely today feels.

This is a milestone birthday, the big 4-0, and boy were we going to celebrate!!! On the 19th, we were going to have a spa day, then have a 7 or 9 course dinner at The Herbfarm, and then stay at Willows Lodge in Woodinville. Our birthday, the 20th, would have been a chemo day, but we would have followed that with seafood lunch and shop till we drop!! After her diagnosis we said, “Fuck it, you only live once!! We don’t know how many birthdays we have left together, so let’s spoil the shit out of ourselves!!” Our last few birthdays, in between chemo and CT scans, we did everything we wanted and spent quality time with our family and friends.

We have this childhood photo from our 4th birthday party, that she had wanted to re-create:

me and aily 4th birthday


We even went out and bought similar dresses, sandals, the streamer rolls, and barbie dolls!!! One of our dear friends even went online and found us the ice-cream lip gloss necklaces like the ones in the photo. All we had to do was change the 4 to 40. I really wish we had had the time to re-create this photo, she was so excited for it. It never took much to keep us amused, especially when we were together.

I remember when we were younger, we wished we had separate birthdays, so we could have our own special day. As we got older, we loved celebrating our birthdays together, and wouldn’t have it any other way. As adults, every year (except the last few years, chemo and alcohol don’t mix well), we would always have a drink at midnight on the 20th whether we were together, or over the phone. I would give anything to spend one more birthday with her.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful for the family and friends who have taken the time to wish me a happy birthday, send me cards, gifts, or spend time with me. I am truly blessed and thankful for every single person in my life. I could not get through any of this without them. My family and friends are my life, they mean everything to me.

Aily, where ever you are, I hope you know how much I love you and miss you. Happy birthday sister bean!!! My only birthday wish is to one day be reunited and we will be together for all eternity!!! This birthday is not the same without you, none of them ever will be. Me loves you so much!!!