Gill, right, was there ev­ery step of the way for twin sis­ter Wendy

Gill and her twin sis­ter shared ev­ery­thing, but there was one jour­ney they couldn’t go on to­gether...

Real People - - OUR MAD WORLD! - Gill Camp­bell, 59, Tice­hurst, East Sus­sex

Cradling the phone against my ear, I thumbed through hang­ers of clothes.

‘I think I’ll wear my red, sleeve­less dress,’ I an­nounced. ‘And I’m bring­ing a gift voucher.’

‘Good,’ replied my sis­ter, Wendy. ‘Don’t want us dou­bling up again!’

It was Fe­bru­ary 2015, and me and Wendy, my iden­ti­cal twin, were de­bat­ing what to wear and take to a fam­ily party.

We were well-known for turn­ing up at events in the same dress, not know­ing the other had bought it.

And I’d lost count of the times we’d bought some­one the same gift.

‘I’ll wear my blue dress

– it’ll likely be the only one

I’ll fit into,’ Wendy grum­bled.

Poor Wendy had been moan­ing about her weight a lot re­cently.

While I’d taken up run­ning a few years ear­lier and was down to a slim size 8, Wendy had inched up to a size 14, al­though most of her weight seemed to have gath­ered round her tummy.

Wendy didn’t take crit­i­cism well, so I knew to tread care­fully...

‘Come for a run with me at lunchtime to­mor­row,’ I sug­gested gen­tly.

At 57, we’d lived up and down the coun­try, helped each other through a failed mar­riage each, and some­how we’d found our way back to­gether in neigh­bour­ing vil­lages in Kent.

I was mar­ried to Mark, 54, and had a son, Ben, 33, while Wendy had been with her part­ner, John, for 20 years, and was mum to Steven,

34, and Lisa, 32.

We even worked to­gether in the same of­fice, both as build­ing con­trol ad­min­is­tra­tors. It suited us per­fectly.

We were best friends as well as sis­ters.

That Satur­day, at the party, we were first on the dance floor when Danc­ing Queen came on.

‘You are my danc­ing queen, young and sweet, only sev­en­teeeen,’ we sang.

It was a bril­liant night. But in the weeks that fol­lowed, Wendy kept moan­ing about her weight.

‘I have a pain un­der my ribcage, too,’ she com­plained one day. ‘Go to the doc­tor,’ I urged.

‘He’ll just tell me I’m fat!’ she snapped.

I rolled my eyes. We’d never had an ar­gu­ment, not one – I wasn’t start­ing now.

But in April, Wendy rang me af­ter she’d fi­nally been to see her GP.

I felt Wendy’s pain…

‘They’re send­ing me for a scan,’ she said. ‘It might be ovar­ian cysts.’

‘I had those a few years back, re­mem­ber?’ I as­sured her. ‘They’re eas­ily re­moved.’

The next day, she’d just got into work when her mo­bile rang. As she an­swered it, her face went ashen. ‘What’s wrong?’ I frowned. ‘I need more scans,’ she croaked.

Later that

day, she rang me, her voice weird, al­most robotic.

‘I’ve got ovar­ian can­cer, stage 3,’ she said. A chill ran down my spine.

‘It must be wrong,’ I gasped. ‘It’s not,’ Wendy said. ‘I’ve got can­cer.’

That was why she’d put on weight around her tummy – ab­dom­i­nal bloat­ing was one of the symp­toms of ovar­ian can­cer.

I felt Wendy’s pain as much as she did.

Af­ter work, I went straight to her, pulled her in for a big hug. Her eyes were red and swollen.

‘It’ll be OK,

I prom­ise,’ I choked.

‘I need chemo,’ she whis­pered.

I didn’t know what to say. I’d al­ways had the right words – and I’d known how to look af­ter my twin.

For the first time ever,

I was stumped.

‘You’ll get through this,’ I vowed. ‘I’ll be with you ev­ery step of the way.’

But de­spite start­ing chemo al­most im­me­di­ately, Wendy seemed to de­te­ri­o­rate rapidly.

She was in and out of hospi­tal, and would of­ten spend weeks there at a time.

And she con­stantly had

cold feet, so I’d buy her ther­mal socks and rub her feet to try to get the cir­cu­la­tion go­ing.

‘Is that bet­ter?’ I smiled one day.

‘Just per­fect!’ she snapped bit­terly. Then she turned her back on me.

Tears stung my eyes.

‘I’m only try­ing to help,’

I wept to Mark later.

‘It’s got to be hard for her,’ he soothed. ‘When she sees you, she sees what she should look like. Ex­cept now she’s bloated, pale and los­ing her hair…’

He was right. Wendy’s lovely shiny long black hair was com­ing away in clumps now.

I was a con­stant re­minder of what she should have.

‘We’ve just never had an ar­gu­ment be­fore,’ I sighed.

It was also play­ing on my mind that, be­cause we were iden­ti­cal, I had a high chance of car­ry­ing the same can­cer gene. So I vis­ited my GP.

‘We’ll get you tested,’ he as­sured me.

Wendy’s ap­petite wasn’t great, but one day when

I was vis­it­ing the hospi­tal, she’d or­dered a tur­key salad, but they’d run out.

‘How about I get us a KFC,’ I grinned.

It was our favourite.

‘Go on, then,’ she said.

I got us a bar­gain bucket, and watch­ing her nib­ble on the chicken, I smiled.

‘Hey, re­mem­ber when we both craved Mars ice creams?’ I asked.

The light flick­ered back into her eyes.

‘I did when preg­nant with Steven, then when you were ex­pect­ing Ben, I found my­self stock­ing the freezer with them again,’ she smiled.

‘I didn’t even know you had the same crav­ing.’ Happy mem­o­ries…

But she was so weak, we’d spend our time watch­ing Cor­rie or Jeremy Kyle. The can­cer was just ag­gres­sive – it spread to her liver and lungs. We knew she didn’t have long left and, on 29 Oc­to­ber, the hospi­tal had a bed sent home for her.

Wendy was skele­tal now.

I no longer felt like I was look­ing in the mir­ror.

‘Hey,’ I smiled. She gave a weak smile back.

‘Ben’s here,’ I said softly. ‘That’s nice,’ she whis­pered. I gave her a kiss.

‘I love you,’ I whis­pered. ‘Love you, too,’ she croaked. I knew she didn’t have long, but I wasn’t ex­pect­ing to get a call from Lisa the fol­low­ing day at mid­day.

‘Mum’s gone,’ she sobbed. Un­able to stop shak­ing,

I was in no state to drive, so a col­league drove me to Wendy’s house. When I walked in, she was still ly­ing in the bed.

But death had brought the sis­ter I re­mem­bered back to me.

She looked more like her old self, at peace…

‘What will I do with­out you?’ I wept. Later, Mark took me to col­lect my car from work.

When I switched the en­gine on, the ra­dio crack­led into life…

‘Oh, Wendy!’ I cried.

Tears stung my eyes…

Enya, her favourite artist, was play­ing.

It was a sign from her. A cou­ple of days later, I went to see Wendy in the chapel of rest.

‘I’m glad you warned me you were her twin,’ the un­der­taker smiled. ‘I’d have got a ter­ri­ble fright.’

‘Wendy would’ve laughed at that,’ I smiled.

And my sis­ter kept let­ting me know she was around. Ex­actly a week af­ter her death, me and Mark were in the car.

I kept glanc­ing at the clock as it ticked closer to 11.45am – the time she’d passed away.

And as it did, her favourite Enya song, Shep­herd Moons,

came on.

‘Thank you, Wendy,’ I sighed.

We played that at her cre­ma­tion, along with Danc­ing Queen.

‘Hope you’re danc­ing up in heaven,’ I thought.

A few weeks later, I was in a petrol sta­tion when a man called out, ‘Wendy!’ My heart skipped a beat…

Hang­ing up the noz­zle,

I went over to him. ‘I’m not Wendy,’ I ex­plained. ‘I’m sorry, but she died. I’m her twin.’ ‘Right,’ he grinned.

It took me ages to con­vince him I wasn’t jok­ing.

She’s been gone two years now. I was re­cently in a cafe when I no­ticed a woman star­ing at me.

‘Are you Wendy’s twin?’ she croaked. I nod­ded.

‘I, I thought it was her at first,’ she stut­tered.

My heart broke for her.

It was like I was mak­ing peo­ple re­live their grief all over again.

For those few sec­onds, they be­lieved Wendy was back from the dead…

But I know all too well she’s gone for ever. The hole in my heart tells me that.

I had my ovaries re­moved as a pre­cau­tion and, thank­fully, the tests to see if I had the BRCA1 gene came back neg­a­tive.

I refuse to let Wendy’s death be in vain, though.

I raise money for Ovar­ian Can­cer Ac­tion now, and I urge women to go to the doc­tor as soon they ex­pe­ri­ence any symp­toms. Wendy might still be here if she’d made an ap­point­ment sooner.

I know it’s hard for Mum and Wendy’s chil­dren see­ing me some­times, but I hope it’s com­fort­ing, too.

In me, a part of her will live on for ever.

We were ex­tremely close

You could say we had a sim­i­lar eye for style!

Wendy (left) and me

I now raise money for Ovar­ian Can­cer Ac­tion

We helped each other with life’s ups and downs

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