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Triple family tragedy

In what can only be described as a heart-breaking family tragedy, Stepping Stone Hospice recently admitted two sisters to its In-Patient Unit, both diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. Olinda Brown (65) had been a patient of Stepping Stone Hospice for the most part of the past two years, first diagnosed with breast cancer and later brain cancer in February 2019. Her sister Gorette Cordeiro (59), was diagnosed with cancer in March 2018.

Gorette was being treated in the ICU in the Bedford Gardens Hospital, before her family decided to move her to Stepping Stone Hospice on July 29. “We couldn’t be with her in the hospital due to Covid-19 regulations and restricted visiting rights, now we can spent whatever time is left with her,” says her husband, Carlos Cordeiro.

The older sister, Olinda, was admitted to hospice on the 7th August, only a few days after Gorette was admitted. “I’m sure they found great comfort in knowing that they are now together, only a few rooms apart. They both seem to have become peaceful and more accepting of the situation,” says a heartbroken Leonard Brown, husband of Olinda.

Both the Brown and the Cordeira families stay in Edenvale and it is clear that they are a close-knit family, having spent most weekends together. And though both husbands feel at a great loss and are clearly devastated by losing these formidable women in their lives, they find small comfort in knowing that they can be there for each other.

Olinda is being described by her husband Leonard and son Dean, as a woman with the “biggest heart. She always worried about everyone else, and being the oldest sister in a family of seven children, she quickly took on the role of mother to her younger siblings,” Leonard says.

That’s also why the family decided not to tell the sisters of their 95-year old mother’s passing on Tuesday 11 August 2020. “The sisters dealt with so much grief already, Olinda regretting that she won’t see her two grandchildren growing up and Gorette not being able to witness her youngest son completing his matric year. It’s just an awful heart-breaking situation,” says Carlos.

The youngest of the seven children, Bernadette, has been left to organize the funeral of their mother, giving her sisters’ families the time and space they need to say their goodbyes. Bernadette herself was diagnosed with colon cancer 10 years ago at the age of 45, but has thankfully recovered and is in full remission.

The families of both sisters expressed their gratitude towards the staff at Stepping Stone Hospice, “who have been with us and our loved ones on this journey, providing comfort and support whenever we needed it.”

Caption: Sisters Olinda Brown (in the bed) and Gorette Cordeiro spending precious time together after both had been admitted into the Stepping Stone Hospice In-Patient Unit.

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