Poet, Jo, shares poem in memory of sister to mark World Cancer Day

Ely Poet Jo Bootle (pictured) has shared a poem she's written called 'Unity' in memory of her sister

Ely Poet Jo Bootle (pictured) has shared a poem she's written called 'Unity' in memory of her sister, Nicki Wilkins (inset) who she lost to cancer in November 2020. - Credit: Cancer Research UK

A poet from Ely who lost her sister to cancer has penned a special tribute to her for World Cancer Day (February 4).

46-year-old HR manager Jo Bootle has called her poem 'Unity' and believes it will give hope to others affected by the disease. 

'Unity' is dedicated to Jo’s sister Nicki Wilkins, who grew up in Ely and ended up settling in Aberystwyth with her husband, Stu and their twin boys, Oz and Zeb. 

Nicki was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer towards the end of 2019 and died in November 2020 aged 42. 

Jo Bootle (left) pictured with her sister Nicki Wilkins who she lost to cancer in November 2020.

Jo Bootle (left) pictured with her sister Nicki Wilkins who she lost to cancer in November 2020. - Credit: Cancer Research UK

“Nicki had a rare type of bowel cancer, the BRAF V600E mutation, and hopefully steps made in more common types will, in turn, go towards finding cures for the others,” said Jo. 

“Anything we can do to help that process and raise more money for the people who need it to make this work is massively important.” 

When Nicki saw a doctor about her symptoms, it was quickly established she had a tumour obstructing her large intestine. 

Most Read

She had to have a large part of her bowel removed and at the same time it was discovered her appendix and lymph nodes were also affected. 

Nicki underwent chemotherapy before she was diagnosed with a brain tumour, thought to be unrelated. 

She had radiotherapy to shrink it, then continued her bowel cancer treatment. 

When it became clear Nicki was facing her final days, Jo says they had a little family get together with a bottle of fizz Nicki had been hiding, and they all sat and talked about all the lovely things. 

Ely Poet Jo Bootle pictured with a photo of her and her sister, Nicki Wilkins, who she lost to cancer in November 2020.

Ely Poet Jo Bootle (pictured) pictured with a photo of her and her sister, Nicki Wilkins, who she lost to cancer in November 2020. - Credit: Cancer Research UK

“She said everything she wanted to say,” said Jo. 

“Her biggest message was love was the reason we were there; love is what it’s all about and she wanted to make sure we knew that.” 

Jo added: “She had already contacted the funeral directors weeks before to let them know what she wanted so we didn’t have to think about it.” 

Jo hopes her poem will encourage everyone to raise money for vital research and wear a Cancer Research UK unity band on the approach to February 4. 

She will be wearing Cancer Research unity bands on World Cancer Day in memory of Nicki and in support of others going through treatment. 

For Cancer Research UK, the awareness day takes on extra significance this year as it celebrates it 20th birthday.