real life

Michelle's twin Lyndal survived years of abuse. Then she was diagnosed with cancer.

When Michelle Weckert is asked about her twin sister, Lyndal, she doesn’t have enough good words to say.

She’s caring, special, funny, selfless and incredible. But she’s also tired and fading fast.

When the Perth sisters were 16, they chose two very different paths. While Michelle describes her life at 53 as “perfect”, her twin has spent half her life fighting – first domestic violence and now cancer.

When asked if she feels guilty about their polar opposite worlds, Michelle doesn’t even wait for the question to be finished, “Absolutely,” she tells Mamamia. “I get really sad about that.”

Meet Lyndal and Michelle. Post continues after video. 

Video by Michelle Weckert.

But that’s why she’s fighting so hard for her now. She’s determined to bring her twin peace and happiness in the time she has left.

14 years ago, Lyndal turned up on her twin’s doorstep. The sisters hadn’t seen each other properly in years, Michelle had just thought she was “so in love she didn’t need her” but the truth was her sister’s husband had kept them apart.

After decades of abuse, Lyndal and her five children finally fled for good. She got a job, rented a new house, and finally started to rebuild her life. But it didn’t last long.

Lyndal before cancer
Lyndal before she got sick. Image: Supplied.
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"Then she got a letter one day and was told she had to leave her house, that same day she found out she had breast cancer," Michelle told Mamamia. "She did it all herself - the treatment, surgeries, all of it - because she's so used to hiding everything."

When she was diagnosed with secondary metastasised cancer in her spine, chest and skull she finally let her sister in.

"She has always fought alone. But she is weaker, tired and drained [this time]," Michelle said. "She has just endured more than a year of chronic pain that has taken a lot out of her. With doctors doing tests, going from one doctor to another, my poor sister is having to go through so much. They also drained fluid from her head with a spinal tap, leaving her desperate and scared with nothing helping her [pain]."

They didn’t tell their mum until recently, worried about how she'd cope with the updated prognosis especially given this is not the only pain their family has endured.

Twelve months ago, the sisters lost their brother to alcohol. They had no idea he was struggling. Michelle thinks this family trait of keeping things to themselves started when they were kids,  and their father was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's while still in his 30s. They never spoke about it, despite witnessing his decline together.

"I have to do everything for her [Lyndal], because I wasn't there for my brother," Michelle told Mamamia. "I want her to just be at peace. That's what I want to give her. I want her to wake up in the morning and not think about anything except herself. For it to actually be about her. I want her to smile for a reason not just because that's who she is."

Lyndal survived years of domestic violence only to begin another fight for her life. Image: Supplied.
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Michelle and Lyndal share an unbreakable bond despite all of their years apart. "It's that twin thing, it's incredible," Michelle tells Mamamia. 

When they reunited their connection became stronger than ever, rekindled with the help of their shared love of music.

"We watched Australian Idol together every Sunday when it first started 14 years ago, Shannon Noll and his music has been with us ever since. I think we have been to every concert in Perth," said Michelle.

It's Nollsy's music that has helped the twins shoulder Lyndal's current battle - the lyrics of their favourite song tell the story of their inner dialogue; "Cause I know how hard it can get. But you gotta lift. You gotta lift."

If there's a 'silver lining' to their story, it's the strength of family. Michelle and Lyndal are in this together.

"We are just connected. We've let nothing get in the way of us being sisters," Michelle told Mamamia. "She is my world."

"Anyone who knows Lyndal knows she is beautiful inside and out and such an inspiration. I cannot express how much of a truly wonderful mother, sister, daughter and friend she is and I want her to know she is not alone," she said.

If you'd like to donate to the GoFundMe Michelle has set up to help ease Lyndal's financial burden and get her access to Olivia Newton John's Cancer Wellness & Research Centre, you can find it here.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Feature image: supplied.

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