In 2013, Angelo, Claudia and Olivia’s mum, Julie was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer at age 47. It was a rocky ride undergoing cycles of chemotherapy and surgery and hoping against all odds that she may be cured. The family put on a brave front as always, not wanting to ask for help from anyone and fighting through life as they always had, as a family. Life had already thrown a number of challenges, with the eldest, Angelo, born with cerebral palsy. He is wheelchair bound and his complex condition requires 24/7 care as he is non-verbal, non weight bearing, and is fed through a PEG tube. Life’s adversity seemed to forge an incredible strength in this family. Julie’s illness was yet another challenge that they would face together.
In July 2015, after exhausting all available treatment options to buy some time with her precious family, Julie passed away. And so began a long and hard journey for Carmelo, Julie’s husband and their children to attempt to regain some semblance of “normal” life, and continue despite the devastating loss of a beautiful wife and mother. Determined to continue caring for Angelo at home, Claudia and Olivia had to work together with their Dad to ensure all their schedules aligned and that his care was not impacted by Julie’s death.
However, more unimaginable sadness was to follow. A month ago, the children experienced the sudden death of their dad Carmelo. Their whole world had turned upside down. Having to deal with the emotional stress of losing both parents so young is beyond comprehension.
Claudia is 23 and Olivia is 19. They are now the primary carers for Ange whom they live with in their family home. The girls have the responsibility of running a house and the burden of its associated expenses. They are trying to manage all of this whilst studying at University, working casual jobs to try to make ends meet as well as co-ordinating their schedules to provide care for their brother. Due to government processes, there is a delay with accessing additional services and funding.
Claudia and Olivia are the strongest most inspirational young women I know. There are not many young people facing adversity with such quiet strength and grace. The girls feel uncomfortable asking for help. It has taken some time for the girls to accept assistance and allow me to create a Go Fund Me page. Grief aside, there are day to day implications of their loss, bills to pay, a household to keep, siblings to care for and all of this is difficult. They are now in a position where they really need all the help they can get.
I am certain that there are people who would like to contribute in a practical way. Any small donation is appreciated beyond words and will help the girls look forward to a future they undoubtedly deserve – one in which they are able to achieve all of their incredible dreams.
Please help spread the word to get these girls back on track.
With many thank you’s and love from Angelo, Claudia and Olivia.