Broncos grieve for teen after cancer battle ends in tragedy
Family and footy played large roles in the life of Year 9 student Sharon Ioane, who died on Easter Sunday, after a long battle with cancer.
The 15-year-old student at Yarrabilba Secondary State College died at her Yarrabilba home surrounded by her family after battling an aggressive cancer since 2019.
The cruel and painful disease, was the only object stopping the bubbly teen from taking to the rugby union field to play for her beloved Sunnybank Under 12s team.
She was only able to play one season with the team after getting her devastating diagnosis of stage four soft tissue cancer in 2019.
After enduring two bouts of gruelling chemotherapy the insidious disease returned in 2020 and, on March 21, doctors said there was nothing more they could do.
In her darkest days, lying in a bed at the Queensland Children's Hospital, it was her sporting idols, including the Queensland Reds, whose visits kept her spirits high.
The Reds players made many visits to her bedside and in one memorable occasion said a prayer with her.
Sharon's love of footy also extended to rugby league and she was also a favourite of Brisbane Bronco Ali Brigginshaw, who also popped in to check on the youngster while in hospital.
Queensland Origin player Moses Mbye arrived with some photos to share and so did Jake Friend, the rugby league footballer from the Sydney Rosters NRL team.
Her love of footy started well before she entered Year 7 at Marsden State High, where principal Andrew Peach remembered her as a valued team member in the school's Rugby League Excellence program.
"She was a tremendous young person who demonstrated such great determination, and our Marsden community has been fortunate to have known her," Mr Peach said.
"I know our footy staff went to see her in hospital a couple of weeks ago."
Her footy coach Cobie-Jane Morgan said Sharon was one of the strongest on-field defensive players and a solid ball runner.
"But I think it was more her off-field presence that made her one of the team's most respected players," Ms Morgan said.
"I have watched her group of friends grow over the years and in that age group there are a lot of girls who are strong minded.
"Sharon was a guiding light to her friends and mature beyond her years in the way she interacted with her peers and adults."
Ms Morgan said Sharon had missed her Marsden colleagues when she made the move to Yarrabilba to be closer to home while she was getting treatment.
Logan and Yarrabilba was where Sharon lived after moving to Australia from Samoa in 2016 when she was adopted, three years before her diagnosis.
One of her last outings was a picnic to the beach at the Gold Coast which was attended by family and friends.
Her adopted parents Patricia and Simon and her sister Anajean said there had been an outpouring of grief from her school friends and the Samoan community.
Her uncle Anthony Palupe said his niece had been a strong person and never complained about her condition.
"Sharon was very strong and must have been in some sort of pain for a while before she was diagnosed and then it was stage four and too late," Mr Palupe said.
"She went to hospital after her leg swelled up and that was when we got the diagnosis.
"We want all parents to be on the lookout for such symptoms and take any mention of pain seriously - as it might save a child's life."
Sharon picked out a burial plot at Logan Village cemetery, close to her home and family and friends.
Her funeral will be on Friday at Hosanna Church, 65 Woogaroo St, Forest Lake at 10am and she will be buried at Logan Village at 1pm.
Originally published as Broncos, Reds grieve for teen after cancer battle ends in tragedy