Song for my sister

It’s Friday morning in the Beattie family household.

Judith is curled up on the living room chair, wrapped up like a fluffy burrito in a fleecy dressing gown.

Her twin sister Katie and brother Ross sit closely beside her, watching as she drops her head tiredly onto the armrest.

It’s the day after another round of intense chemotherapy for Judith and her body is tired, but then the sudden appearance of a squirrel in the garden makes her blue eyes light up like lamps.

“He’s so fat, I don’t know why the birdfeeder doesn’t fall over under him,” she said, breaking into a wide smile.

Katie and Ross smile right along with her, pleased that their sister is pleased. Together, they’ve spent the last six months supporting her through the toughest battle she has ever had to face.

Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, one of the most aggressive types of cancer in the world, Judith has been undergoing treatment at the Beatson Cancer Centre in Glasgow with Katie and Ross at her side.

Judith, 20, was in the second day of her final year at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee when she was told she had cancer. But when news of a threat like cancer comes through, it’s more than just the patient who faces the tough fight ahead.

Together, Katie and Ross have thrown themselves into supporting their sister, from raising her spirits to raising funds.

And when Ross, 16, put his thoughts and feelings onto paper, something really quite special came out of it.

“I wrote a song when Judith fell ill,” said Ross. “I wrote it about her, about what she was going through, about what we were going through.

“I didn’t tell her about it at first, and it was just done on the piano with singing. It’s kind of slow and a bit sad, but it’s about getting through hard times.”

Ross’s song lyrics are now printed and hang proudly in Judith’s bedroom, and his song ‘Crushing Giants’ is now hopefully about to be recorded and released to raise funds for Teenage Cancer Trust.

Katie too recently pulled together a massive art exhibition in Glasgow, including Judith’s own paintings, raising an incredible £12,000 for the charity.

“I never imagined it going so well but we’re so pleased and thankful to everyone who helped us,” said Katie. “From Skypark who let us use their space for free, to everyone who volunteered and who bought or donated the paintings.

“We’ve had our volunteer bubble wrappers busy sending the works off, and Shannon, Judith’s friend, did an amazing job in Dundee rallying support there.”

There are a few paintings and photographs still for sale on the sister’s Facebook page although the siblings are already thinking about their next big challenge.

“I was thinking maybe a firewalk or even walking on glass,” said Katie. “I’d be up for that if the doctors let me,” Judith adds in agreement.

For now though, Judith is looking forward to a trip at home in Scotland with her boyfriend and some quality time with Ross and Katie.

“We have grown closer as a family and you do find yourself noticing the little things in life a lot more too,” said Judith. “It’s feeling the rain on your face, or watching a squirrel in the garden. Everything matters more.”

Crushing Giants

By Ross Beattie, aged 16

We appear to have ourselves a situation,
Don’t know quite what to do.
And we wake up to find there’s no more time for false solutions,
This time the fight is up to you.
But I know…

This ain’t the end of the laughter,
This ain’t your final chapter.
And I’ll fight tyrants for you,
And I’ll crush giants for you.

Don’t let hope turn to dust in your hands,
Don’t let love turn to hate.
And don’t hold out, for clearer horizons,
Just fight fire with faith.
Have faith…

This ain’t the end of the laughter,
This ain’t your final chapter.
And I’ll fight tyrants for you,
And I’ll crush giants for you.

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