ANNA Cesta has been remembered as a brave and selfless woman who battled her illness with dignity and grace, while never wavering in her care for others.
Mourners filled every pew in Sacred Heart Cathedral on Thursday for an emotional celebration of her life.
Mrs Cesta’s younger sister, Pierina Eleuteri-Argano, said Mrs Cesta was the strongest person she knew.
“She fought to the very end with dignity and grace,” Mrs Eleuteri-Argano said.
“She was a beautiful sister to me and I will forever cherish what we shared together.
“She was admired and loved by all of us who were fortunate enough to be touched by her.
“We will remember her beauty, her kindness, her generosity, her warmth and the quality of her love.”
She said Mrs Cesta was a “golden child – creating mischief and always getting away with it” during their childhood with their widowed mother in Mayfield.
“As young girls we had our fights and battles, but this brought us closer together as we learned and understood who we were as sisters and people,” she said.
“The deep and loving bonds that we formed helped us to get through many of life’s challenges that we faced later on.”
Mrs Cesta was a beauty therapist when she met the love of her life, Dino.
They married on March 15, 1996, and named their daughter, Siena, now 20, after the Italian city where they spent part of their honeymoon.
They lived in Sydney before returning to Newcastle, where Mrs Cesta became the “cafe queen of Darby Street”, well known for her half-strength skim cappuccino, served extra, extra hot.
Mrs Cesta faced “one of the biggest challenges of her life” when Mr Cesta was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at Christmas 2011.
She became his primary carer and also supported her sister after her breast cancer diagnosis in February 2013.
“Anna was busy caring for everyone else that it took us all by surprise when she too was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014,” Mrs Eleuteri-Argano said.
“Despite the challenges that Anna faced she always maintained a positive attitude.”
The Herald spoke with Mrs Cesta and her husband shortly before his passing in November 2015.
She had stopped chemotherapy for her stage four cancer to improve her quality of life and be well enough to look after her soulmate.
‘‘I don’t think about it, I just do it,’’ Mrs Cesta said at the time.
“If you love someone it’s just natural to care for them.
“You trust your vows for better or for worse.
“We’ve always said love is a doing word, it’s a verb.
“I’ve always said to him I’m the lucky one, because I married the love of my life.’’
Mrs Eleuteri-Argano said Mrs Cesta wanted to create as many memories as possible with her daughter.
They travelled with her family to Italy, where they saw her and Mr Cesta’s favourite band, U2.
She went against doctors’ orders to Hawaii with Siena and Vietnam with her friend Olivia, “determined to embrace as much time as possible with her family and friends”.
Anna Cesta passed away on May 26. She was 57.
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