Stevenson's mother Diana was diagnosed with cancer in January 2011, shortly before her father Roy discovered he had a brain tumour.
Their daughter was supposed to be competing in the United States and Germany that spring.
Instead she spent incomprehensible days shuttling between different floors of a Sheffield hospital tending to her sick parents.
At their insistence she competed in the world championships in Korea in May of that year, returning to celebrate a gold laden with emotion.
Roy died in July, three months before his wife lost her own parallel battle with cancer.
And, as if Stevenson had not seen enough of hospital walls, she then had to return for surgery on a cruciate ligament injury in February 2012.
"I only realised at the end that it was an achievement to even be in the ring. I don't think I had realised how tough my life in the run-up had been, Stevenson told BBC Sport.
"It is a shame that I didn't get a medal but what I have been through helps put sport into perspective.
"What is sport compared to what people are going through at home? It isn't anything really."
Except that sport has definitely been something for Stevenson - in the violence of the ring she has found solace.
Sarah Stevenson claimed her second world championship title in Korea in 2011
"Taekwondo has helped me deal with bad things that have happened in my life," she adds.
"It has taught me to be mentally tough and to get through all the hard stuff through the last eighteen months.
"When I was training, my aim for that hour or two in that gym was to switch off from everything else and focus only on taekwondo."
Where cancer had taken her parents, the sport has also provided Stevenson with family.
She married her coach Steve Jennings in November 2010 and found that, as he was one of the committee members who opted to select eventual bronze medallist Lutalo Mohammad ahead of world number one Aaron Cook for the Olympic team, she was dragged into the controversy herself.
"It has been quite upsetting to hear people say that I am just sticking by my man," she added.
"It doesn't matter if I am married to a coach or not, I still have my own opinions. I am quite a strong person and I can say what I want.
"I just think that either one could have won a medal and that is why it was so tough for them to make that decision.
"I don't think they were wrong. Lutalo could have got a gold. Both are amazing athletes, how do you choose?"
If the debate over Cook's omission dogged the British squad's build-up, Jade Jones's megawatt smile cleared the gloom once London 2012 began.
Stevenson says that the Welsh teenager's 57kg gold shows that it is not all about "old Sarah Stevenson" in British taekwondo any more.
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