OUR PALLIATIVE CARE HEROES NEED YOUR HELP THIS CHRISTMAS.
Dealing with a life-limiting illness is one of the toughest challenges a family can face, and our incredible palliative care heroes support them every step of the way.
As someone who lost a young brother to a life-limiting illness at Laurel Hospice, Lucy knows first-hand just how much of a difference it makes to have the support of warm, understanding and dedicated staff at such a difficult time.
On 2 August 2010 at the age of 25, Lucy’s younger brother Tom was diagnosed with brain cancer.
“We knew from the day that Tom was diagnosed, that he would die from this disease,” Lucy shares.
After that time, he was under the care of the incredible neurosurgeon, Dr. Santosh Poonnoose.
Dr. Poonnoose performed three surgical resections on Tom, trying to give him the best opportunity to extend his life.
The focus for Tom became about living well and also dying well.
Tom was really good at the living well part.
He didn’t speak a lot about death, but he sure showed everyone how to live.
Tom was extremely stoic throughout his diagnosis and his illness.
He managed to graduate as an engineer from the University of Adelaide, despite many people telling him that it was impossible.
He went on to become a part of the graduate program at BHP and he lived independently at Roxby Downs.
Tom defied his prognosis and lived a lot longer than people thought he would.
Seven years after his diagnosis things started to get really hard for Tom and that’s when his family met the team at Laurel Hospice.
“The first time my husband Kane and I came with Tom to Laurel Hospice, he was in a really agitated space and state,” says Lucy.
“I’d never thought of hospice care as something that you could do more than once, and at that time it was simply to do a few things for Tom. It was to provide a safe space for him and to get his pain under control and his anxiety.”
Lucy believes that the early intervention of palliative care extended Tom’s life.
“It gave us the gift of another Christmas. I think it gave Tom a better quality of life and more importantly than anything, it reassured Tom that his wishes were being met, and his greatest wish at that time as a young man was really to continue to live independently.”
This Christmas, as many of us look forward to unwinding after a challenging year, we should remember that our dedicated heroes continue to put patients and their loves ones first, despite the emotional and physical fatigue that often come with working in end-of-life care.
These heroes are human too.
Their compassion and selfless work can take a heavy emotional toll, often leading to chronic stress and burnout.
That’s why the Laurel Palliative Care Foundation needs help to develop crucial wellness programs for their palliative care nurses, doctors and staff so they can continue to give their all.
One of these heroes is Simon who Lucy and Tom met the first time they went to Laurel Hospice.
Simon continued to provide care throughout Tom’s stay, including in his final stages.
“Simon has remained a very good friend of ours,” says Lucy.
One of the first times they met Simon, he shared with them that his brother had died of brain cancer.
“It was very generous of him to share that and to be so vulnerable. He assured us that he had been through this. He understood and he would provide the very best care to Tom.”
This vulnerability is something that Lucy will always remember.
There was just something very normal to their friendship. They’re just two young men who got along very well and joked and laughed,” says Lucy.
Tom and his family considered Simon an angel that came into their lives when they needed him most.
Simon says, “If I can make someone’s journey a little easier, then I feel I have achieved my purpose.”
If you or your family have experienced the warmth and generosity of hospice or community palliative care staff, then you know what an amazing difference they make.
They give everything they’ve got to provide the best possible care, always putting patients and our loved ones first.
To help heroes like Simon, the Laurel Palliative Care Foundation is developing a range of staff wellness programs to be made available as soon as possible.
These include resilience training and the promotion of more effective stress coping strategies.
If you are in a position to be able to make a donation to the Laurel Palliative Care Foundation this Christmas, you will help to provide vital support to palliative care staff, ensuring they can continue to care for those who need it most.
Together, we can fight for the wellbeing of our palliative care heroes.
For more information about the Laurel Palliative Care Foundation, visit their website here.
Make a donation here.