Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'It's as Rare as Winning the Lottery. but We've Not Won at All' - Mum

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'It's as Rare as Winning the Lottery. but We've Not Won at All' - Mum

Article excerpt

Byline: Katie Dickinson Reporter

THE family of a young Northumberland woman have spoken of her determination to live her life her own way as she fought a rare form of cancer.

Rachel Gillie died in November last year, at the age of just 26, after a secret seven-year health battle.

Overcoming their loss, Rachel's family were too upset to talk about her fight.

But now, they have told of their pride in a "special young lady" who never let her illness "impede her life".

Describing his sister as an "inspiration", 23-year-old brother Adam said the pair were best friends as well as siblings.

"We were a little double act, when we wanted to be, right from when we were little," he said.

"I always looked up to her and lots of times in my life, I consulted her for sisterly advice. I asked her about everything really.

"There have already been moments since she has died where I have thought, 'What would Rachel do? What would Rachel tell me to do?'."

Rachel grew up in Riding Mill with Adam and parents Denise and Rob.

She attended Broomhaugh Church of England First School before Corbridge Middle School and Queen Elizabeth High School, in Hexham.

Rachel had just left school when she received the devastating diagnosis of paraganglioma, a rare type of cancer which causes tumours.

The odds of contracting the type of paraganglioma Rachel had are around two million to one.

"It's as rare as winning the lottery," mum Denise said. "But we've not won at all."

Rachel's illness took hold and she faced operations in the year following her A-level results, when she also worked at Shepherds Dene Retreat House.

Despite the setback, the life-long book lover went on to Manchester Metropolitan University to study English and American literature.

After graduating, Rachel got a job at Fentimans in Hexham in the export department, a job that she loved. …

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