THE heartbroken family of a woman who died from a brain tumour during lockdown is channelling their grief to help others in their community.
The pandemic has been both a frightening and uncertain time for many people in Cork. However, for Fiona O’Callaghan, who lost her sister Sharon Condon to a brain tumour, it was utterly devastating.
She admits that their world was turned upside down much earlier than most after 47-year old Sharon’s diagnosis last February. Tragically, the Farranree woman, who lived with her mother Alice, passed away just 11 weeks later.
Fiona explained that her sister had special needs and did not understand the hopelessness of her situation. Rather than let heartbreak consume them, Fiona and her family concentrated on making their time left together as special as possible.
“Sharon didn’t know what was happening to her,” Fiona said.
“We didn’t tell her she was going to die. Because of her intellectual disability, she wouldn’t have understood. We spent 11 weeks making brilliant memories. Even though we weren’t able to go anywhere, it was great to just be together.
“Our world was upside down but every night we went to bed Sharon would give us a kiss and a hug. Each morning she’d wake up and say ‘thanks for minding me’. It was like she didn’t notice the soreness or pain. As weak as she got she still never complained.”
Fiona said her sister’s legacy lives on. She and her family presented the Irish Cancer Society with a cheque for more than €2,000 in her memory. The sum was leftover from an online fundraiser organised by Sharon’s nephew Ryan O’Callaghan and his cousins Michael Murphy, Craig O’Callaghan, Devon Hamilton, Niamh Condon and Adam Kearney.
The online draw. which took place on Sharon’s birthday drummed up a total of €6,800 as part of Sharon’s Hand on Heart Appeal GoFundMe page.
Monies raised also went towards garden furniture and defibrillators which are now situated in the Cope Foundation building in Hollyhill, where Sharon attended. They also gifted two further defibrillators to Cork City Community First Responders.
Fiona recalled how the pandemic made Sharon’s funeral difficult. However, Sharon said they still count their blessings.
“There is still so much we are thankful for. We are so lucky that Sharon didn’t suffer. If the lockdown hadn’t happened we wouldn’t have had so much time to spend with her on our own. We are so glad to be able to donate to the Irish Cancer Society because we got to see firsthand the great job the night nurses do.”
Fiona spoke of Maureen’s passions in life adding: “She loved COPE Foundation and they have now created a garden in her memory known as ‘The Sharon Condon garden’.”