Love, Loss, and Legacies with the Hicksons
There is nothing worse than losing someone you love, but there is courage in making a difference and creating a legacy in the wake of that loss. When Helen Hickson was faced with a terminal diagnosis she knew she wanted to give back to Waipuna Hospice. With the help of her husband Andre and their three children, Helen’s legacy now lives on in the work we do.
Andre’s and Helen’s story started almost 50 years ago on the sandy shores of Pilot Bay thanks to a mutual friend and a jellyfish fight. However, it wasn’t until four years later when the pair met again that their romance began. Helen was living in Otago and Andre was studying at Lincoln University, but they made the distance work for many years. Andre and Helen went on to spend over 40 years together creating memories and building their loving family. They welcomed three wonderful children into their lives and went on many adventures.
In 2018 Helen was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and from there the news only got worse. After having her bladder removed, the family received the painful news that the cancer had spread to Helen’s lymph nodes, dramatically reducing the time she had left. What was meant to be five years, turned into seven months.
However, that didn’t stop Helen from seeing life as a gift and enjoying the time she had left. Helen was a fighter and was determined to keep going until the very end. “She was amazing,” says daughter Sally with affection. “She was just so full of life and I am so proud of how she dealt with things when she became sick.”
When faced with Helen’s terminal diagnosis, Andre and Helen sat down to talk about life and Helen’s wishes. Reflecting on the life they’d lived, the adventures they’d been on, and the three amazing children they’d bought into the world, Helen and Andre agreed they had no regrets in life. “Helen was quite adamant she’d had a good life, and would often remind us of that.”
One thing Helen wanted was to recognise the help and support their family received from Waipuna Hospice by donating. It was a sentiment shared by Andre and the children after their first-hand experience with the care and support offered by Waipuna Hospice.
Andre had always known about Waipuna Hospice, but it wasn’t until Helen was referred to our services that he came to understand how much we help.
“If you haven’t been through the experience you just think of Waipuna as a building and don’t understand what they do.”
“What I came to learn is that Waipuna Hospice is about people who come into your family when you need them and make the whole journey less painful.”
As Sally explains, it wasn’t just the medical help that made a difference to the Hicksons.
“Waipuna Hospice not only helped Mum pass away in a peaceful environment with no pain, but they also helped us understand what was happening to her and what to expect so it didn’t seem so scary. It felt more natural. I don’t know what we would have done if Waipuna Hospice weren’t involved.”
Helen died in November 2018 in the comfort of her memory-filled home surrounded by her loved ones. After seven months of living life to the fullest the Hicksons learnt to make the best of every day. “There will always be little gems and bad days can become good days quite quickly,” reflects Andre. “It’s hard, but we try to make everyone appreciate that, and surround yourself with good people.”
“The other thing we learnt is that when you’re in the situation to give back, you do. It can be as simple as giving in your Will.”
For the Hicksons this meant honouring Helen’s wishes and donating to Waipuna Hospice, in turn creating a legacy for Helen which lives on in Waipuna Hospice’s work. As the Hicksons learnt, it can be as simple as giving in a Will or making a donation, but for them it was an easy way to recognise the support they received and ensure Waipuna Hospice will continue to be there to support future generations.
Waipuna Hospice would like to say thank you to the Hickson family for sharing their story with us. If you would like to share your story please click here.
This story was first published in our newsletter – Waipuna Connections, issue 74.
If you need support and are a Waipuna Hospice patient or family member, please call us on 07 552 4380 – our counsellors are available to you Monday – Friday, excluding public holidays. Alternatively, if you aren’t a Waipuna Hospice patient or family member and need support, you can free-call or text 1737. 1737 is a free service for anyone who needs to talk to a counsellor, and it’s open 24/7.