It might have been down to the genes switched on by a long line of matriarchs that my sister Daloni Carlisle, who has died aged 56, seized life by the throat and held on to it so tenaciously. Sadly that same gene-line also led to the womb cancer that killed her at such an early age.
With her fiery red hair and flaming intelligence, Daloni used both her scientific knowledge and her skills as a journalist to raise awareness of womb cancer – the fourth most common cancer in women in the UK but rarely talked about. She wrote about it for the Guardian and campaigned for the Eve Appeal, a charity raising awareness of gynaecological cancers.
She also became a Macmillan Cancer Support online community champion, talking to hundreds of other people with incurable secondary cancer, often at ungodly hours of the morning.
Daloni was born in Chiswick, west London, to Audrey (nee Gillmore), a teacher, and her husband, David Carlisle, a research scientist. She went to Twickenham county school, and after leaving Bath University with a biochemistry degree in the mid-1980s completed a diploma in journalism at City University in London. Starting out as a staff writer on Nursing Standard, she moved to Nursing Times, where she became a special correspondent.
During the 90s she switched to become part of the media team at the International Committee of the Red Cross, where one of her roles was to visit trouble spots and to speak or write about what she saw. Among other things, she accompanied a humanitarian mission led by Lady (Caroline) Cox to the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh in the Caucasus. The two of them flew in with an aeroplane full of medicines, food and fuel. Three weeks later the same plane was shot down on a similar mission.
Daloni met her husband-to-be, Stevika Pesic, a vet, on another mission in bomb-blasted Sarajevo. They settled in Sevenoaks in Kent and had two daughters; the marriage eventually ended in divorce. After she left the Red Cross in 2000 she became a freelance writer on healthcare issues, combining her work with being a mother.
Daloni’s zest for life was never more apparent than in the years following her 2014 diagnosis. She did all she could to cement wonderful memories for her family with holidays, theatre outings, day trips and festivals.
When she could no longer get about so freely she took to sewing for all and sundry, making wonderful bright fabric trousers, shorts, hats and bags.
She is survived by her daughters, Sofia and Monika, her sisters, Tamsin, Alison and me, two nieces, Rosa and Georgia, and two half-siblings, Damaris and Aidan.