FAMILY members are ‘desperate’ to track down their long-lost half sister who was born in Barnsley before being adopted in the 1960s due to potentially hereditary cancer fears.
A brother and sister - whose recent cancer diagnoses have increased the urgency of the search - are growing desperate to find their sister after only finding out she existed around five years ago after their mother’s death.
Cheryl Oldfield, 52, and Craig Smith, 53, only learned how their mother was ‘shipped off’ to Worsbrough Dale from Sheffield to give birth to their half sister years after their mother passed away.
Their sister was born on December 17, 1962, and was named Michele Bastiman.
She was taken from their mother at five weeks and two days old and is believed to have been adopted.
Their mum, whose maiden name was Wendy Lilian Bastiman, passed away ten years ago and ‘took the secret to her grave’, before their father told them after she had passed.
The sudden urgency in the search comes after both Cheryl and Craig were diagnosed with cancer, with Craig having undergone surgery to remove his bowel cancer just this week.
In September 2018, Cheryl was told she had incurable lung cancer and had between nine months and two years to live.
Though Cheryl’s cancer is now in a ‘stable’ state after chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment, she remains worried.
She is also in remission from sarcoma and melanoma - two other forms of cancer.
Wendy fell pregnant with Michele at 16 to her ‘first love’ whose identity is unknown to the family and lived at Brailsford Road, Ecclesfield, at the time.
Her parents didn’t approve of the pregnancy and despite her mother’s wishes to keep and raise the baby as her own, her father ‘shipped her off’ to live with her cousin, Marjorie Moody, at Walbrook, Worsbrough, to have her baby.
After finding out about Michele, Cheryl then came across two pictures of the baby in an old box of photos her mum had left her - along with Michele’s birth certificate.
On the back of one of the photos - which was taken at Denton and Co on Eldon Street, Barnsley - it says Michele left their mum on January 28 aged five weeks and two days old.
“I’d never seen these photos before - I never knew they existed,” said Cheryl.
“My mum was heartbroken and ashamed and wanted to take it to the grave, and that she did.
“I know what it’s like to lose a baby myself, and I can’t imagine what my mum must have gone through.
“When I look at the picture of Michele I can definitely see some similarities, I have her eyes.
“We are doing all this because we want to have that relationship with our sister, we want to know if she looks like us.
“It would be absolutely lovely to meet her, and just give her a big hug.”
Cheryl and Craig have been searching through the government adoption search service but have drawn blanks, and have now turned to social media ‘out of desperation’.
The family are planning to try their luck with DNA ancestry sites but believe their best chance is hearing from anyone still living who has any useful information.
“Being from such a small family, it means the world to know that we have a sister out there,” Cheryl said.
“I was upset when I found out, but not for myself, I was absolutely devastated for my mum and Michele.
“I can’t bear the thought of what my mum must’ve gone through.
“The really heartbreaking thing about all of this is that she is never going to feel that mother’s love.
“She’s never going to know what that’s like.
“Everything she will hopefully be able to learn about our mother, will have to come from us.
“We are still so passionate about finding our sister, If she does want to be found, we will move hell and high water to meet her.
“My kids now also know about her now and they would love to come and meet her.
“It just breaks my heart that she will never know my mum, I had a fantastic childhood and a loving home, even though Michele might have still had that it is really sad that she couldn’t have had that with our mum, too.
“It’s just really sad and it really shouldn’t have happened.”