No One Should Die Alone
Facing a terminal diagnosis alone isn’t something any of us want to think about. Having no family to turn to, no shoulder to cry on, and no one to comfort you when things become too painful is an agonising reality for many. When Jan Garrett was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer, she had no family or community around her, so she prepared to face it alone, with just her dog Honey for support. That is however until Waipuna Hospice began to care for her.
I remember going to see my doctor when I started to feel very unwell and I was referred to the hospital to get some exploratory tests done. They found I had bowel cancer, and because I was suffering from several other conditions they couldn’t do anything to help me. So, as I like to say, I joined the waiting list to go on my way.”
Then Jan’s doctor recommended hospice care.
“I didn’t really know or understand what I was in for when my doctor first suggested Waipuna Hospice. I had no conception of what was going to happen to me, or how my symptoms would develop. However, I knew people who had received hospice care, and their families said the support was really marvellous. Knowing I was going to be in good hands made me feel happier about making the choice to come into hospice care.”
After believing nothing could be done to help her, Jan was a little dubious of the care Waipuna Hospice was offering.
“I suffer from fluid build-up in my legs. At one point my legs were almost double in size, and they felt like they were going to burst. I couldn’t even touch my legs because the pain was excruciating. Then Moira from Waipuna Hospice came to see me and offered to try lymphatic massages to help remove the excess fluid. I didn’t really believe that a massage was going to help, but I could feel the improvement instantly. The pain eased quite quickly and I could touch my legs again without being in agony. I like to call hospice my miracle workers.”
For someone with no family or community support around them, hospice care went a long way in making Jan feel she wasn’t alone.
“Growing up an orphan, and being a widow means I don’t have family around me. I am completely on my own. It’s just me and my dog, and that was really scary until Waipuna Hospice started caring for me and calling to check on me. It made me feel safe. I know death is coming, and I am frightened to die, but I feel better knowing hospice care is there to help when I need it.”
Ensuring our patients feel safe under our care is our top priority. If we can do something to ease our patients’ fears or loneliness, then we do it, whether via a home visit or simply a phone call to check-in.
“My advice to someone facing death would be to consider the value of hospice services. It’s worth it. Waipuna Hospice looked after me and did an amazing job of making me feel cared for, both medically and emotionally. If something is wrong, I know I can call hospice.”
Facing death alone is scary, but with the help of our community, Waipuna Hospice can make sure people with life-limiting illnesses are supported and feel safe in their final days.
We would like to thank Jan Garrett, who passed away not long after sharing her story with us. It was an honour to care for and support Jan.
If you would like to share your story please click here.
This story was first published in our newsletter – Waipuna Connections, issue 77.