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‘My dying twin sister’s last gift to me’

Devoted mother: Nikki Maharaj with her two children Nyla and Noah

For twin sisters Nikki Maharaj and Bridget Martin their 36th birthday was as remarkable as it was precious.

After a nine-year battle with cancer, few expected Ms Maharaj to reach the milestone, but the devoted mother of two fought right to the end and enjoyed April 17 with her beloved sister and best friend, before finally succumbing to the disease six days later.

“It was her last gift to me,” said Ms Martin. “To be able to spend our birthday together surrounded by our family, which we had not been able to do for the previous six years, is something I will treasure for the rest of my life.”

Ms Maharaj had a brain tumour diagnosed in 2007, but despite a courageous battle against the disease that involved surgery, radiation therapy and rehabilitative treatment for nearly a decade, she passed away on April 23.

“Nikki never complained, she just dealt with it so gracefully and humbly,” Ms Martin said. “Her bravery and courage were an inspiration to so many people.”

The twin sisters grew up in Printer’s Alley area of St George’s with their parents, Donald and Paula Outerbridge, and their three bothers Shannon, Ryon and Carlo.

They attended St George’s Preparatory School before moving to Warwick Academy and pursuing further studies at Bermuda College.

“Nikki loved sport especially athletics and she love music too,” Mrs Outerbridge said. “She loved to sing with her sister, they had beautiful voices.

“I am so proud of her, she was a wonderfully kind daughter but also very sensitive too.

“The girls were always close growing up, they had an incredible bond that was always there.”

Ms Martin added: “I knew Nikki was always there for me at school. When we played sport together we knew what each other was thinking, so it made games like netball pretty easy.

“She was an awesome sister; quiet, easy going. supportive and loving.”

After completing her arts and science studies at Bermuda College Ms Maharaj married Darrell Maharaj and the couple moved to Toronto where they had two children Nyla and Noah.

The family then returned to Bermuda in 2004 where Ms Maharaj worked in the insurance sector.

“She always made sure we were happy,” Ms Maharaj’s daughter Nyla said. “She never said ‘no’ to us and we could talk about anything with her.”

In 2007 she suffered a grand mal seizure and was flown to Baltimore in an air ambulance with her sister by her side. After undergoing surgery to remove the tumour and becoming paralysed down one side Ms Maharaj made a miraculous recovery and taught herself to walk again and returned to Bermuda.

During the course of the next nine years Ms Maharaj returned to the United Stated frequently for check-ups and then further treatment when her condition deteriorated. In December 2015 doctors told her the cancer was inoperable and she should prepare to say goodbye to her family.

The news prompted Ms Maharaj and her family to make a surprise trip to her sister in Texas.

“That time we spent together was so important,” said Ms Martin. “It broke my heart that I could not be with her at hospital so to be able to spend that time together, to hold her, to speak with her, to laugh with her, was so important. I think it lifted us both.”

Ms Maharaj returned to Bermuda in January and continued to defy the doctor’s predications.

“Every time we got bad news she just rallied again,” said Mrs Outerbridge. “She just kept going and kept fighting.

“Nikki was so determined to make the best of everything.”

After celebrating her 36th birthday with Ms Martin and the rest of her family Ms Maharaj passed away on April 23. On Saturday more than 500 friends and family members attended her funeral at Christ Church in Devonshire.