They thought she’d be snatched away from them when cancer invaded her body as a baby – but their little girl was a fighter.
She went on to grow up, meet the love of her life and marry him.
Then tragedy struck: her beloved husband was killed in a freak trampoline accident and she fell apart. Ten months later she was dead – and her grieving parents believe she died of a broken heart.
In her final weeks, Amelia and Desmond Delport could only watch helplessly as their daughter, Denise du Toit, inched closer and closer to the grave. “I didn’t recognise her anymore,” Amelia says. “She looked like a living skeleton. I waited for death to claim her.”
In the months before her death, Denise (36) locked herself in her room at home in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo, and refused to eat. She went from weighing a healthy 67kg to 28kg.
The official cause of death was organ failure but according to Amelia, Denise died because she couldn’t face life without her husband. She slipped into a deep depression after Awa du Toit (35) died in January. She refused to eat and wouldn’t get out of bed.
Amelia watched helplessly as her daughter’s health deteriorated dramatically. “My child died with Awa,” she says. “She continued to breathe for 10 more months but she was never really alive again.”
Shortly after her husband’s death, Denise was diagnosed with kidney failure. But despite her parents’ pleas, she ignored her doctor’s advice to seek treatment and refused to take medication. “For months, I begged her, ‘Please, my darling, just eat something. Anything. Just try. Mommy can’t see you like this, it’s breaking my heart’. But it was pointless,” Amelia says.
“Every time she started showing signs of getting out of bed, she just flopped back down. Then she’d cry for days, saying, ‘Leave me alone, I just want to be with Awa’.”
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