A storybook wedding at Stepping Stone Hospice

It was only a six months into their relationship that Zanelle Mphikwa was diagnosed with urethral and bladder cancer. What followed was four years of fighting the disease together, moving from radiation to chemo to remission to out of remission, and now Stepping Stone Hospice.

And it is here at Stepping Stone Hospice, on Sunday 12 June, 2016, that a dream came true for the 43-year old Zanelle. In a moving ceremony witnessed by close friends, family members and hospice staff, this beautiful love story came full circle when Zanelle married her soulmate, the “love of my life” Ilze de Brandt.

The couple met in 2011, both working for Broadreach Corporation, Zanelle a trainer and Ilze an events coordinator. “I just knew that she is the one,” Zanelle says with a twinkle in her eyes. And so it turned out to be exactly that, as Ilze explains that ever since Zanelle’s diagnosis in 2012, she has hardly left her side. “I committed to walk the path of love and life with her and when it’s all said and done, I need to know that I have done everything I possibly could to help and to love her.”

Zanelle, born and bred in Vosloorus and her home still in Vosloorus, explains that her family accepted Ilze unconditionally in her life. And the same goes with Ilze’s family and friends and especially her 22-year old daughter, Pascale. “Pascale just needs to see and know that I am happy, she loves Zanelle and is grateful for what she brought to our lives.”

Ilze spends day and night at Zanelle’s bedside in Stepping Stone Hospice’s in-patient unit in New Market Park. “Fortunately our company has been very supportive of the situation.“

As one of Zanelle’s wishes were always to get married to Ilze, a decision was made last week Wedensday and within a few days, their group of amazing friends, calling themselves the 7 Wonders, together with hospice staff and management, and National Paramedic's Services, arranged a storybook wedding in the hospice gardens. “It is one of the best decisions of my life,” Ilze says. “ Plus it was the first time in a very long time that I wore a dress, quite a thing for me, ” she laughingly explains.

“We are absolutely thrilled and yes, with me there is always hope, I don’t want to give up,” Zanelle says. “I pray a lot, for time and health, but if this is it for me, I then just pray that I will be in peace and not in pain,” she concludes, holding on to Ilze’s hand.

And for Ilze “I live in the moment, I don’t fight God about it and I accept that it will be what it will be. I too just pray for pain-free moments with Zanelle and that we can make every moment count.”

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The happy couple, Ilze and Zanelle cutting the wedding cake
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CEO of Stepping Stone Hospice, Tersia Burger (left) and head of clinical services, Sr Sheryl Newman (right) celebrating Ilze and Zanelle’s special moment.

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