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News: “Everyone was like family.” Cath’s story

News: “Everyone was like family.” Cath’s story

One of our volunteers, Cath, recalls the journey she went on with her husband Chris when he was cared for by Cranford Hospice.

“I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like Chris, he was instantly likeable with a smile that came from the heart. He believed life is for living. That’s the way we brought up our two boys – you get out there and you live and experience life.”  

Chris was first diagnosed with cancer in February 2012 and after treatment and surgery was in remission for two years. On the 25 January 2014, after a struggling with headaches on a family holiday in England, it was confirmed the cancer was back.

“Our first contact with Cranford was in 2014, but we didn’t need their help until September 2017. That is about the same time Chris started volunteering in the hospice’s garden.

Chris really wanted something to aim for, to give before he took. I would come along and help in the garden too. Getting to know everybody took away the fear of what hospice might mean.

When we had to start calling Cranford for help it was like welcoming family. And that’s what it was 100% of the way through, everyone was like family.”

Keeping Chris at home was important to both Chris and Cath, who had been inseparable since their first date in 1998. Towards the end of Chris’ life, the nurses’ visited every second day, Cath used the 24-hour phone services to get advice from the nursing staff and the occupational therapist, Clare, brought out shower chairs, a bed, walker and wheelchair.

“Clare was phenomenal. She really put her heart and soul into it.”  

Chris got a lot of pleasure from seeing the team turn up. Having that outside contact and a chat with someone different meant so much to him. “It was also good for him knowing that the boys and I had the support,” Cath reflects, with their youngest son in his second to last year of high school, and the eldest at university.

“’You’re doing well, you’re looking after him beautifully.’ Hugh, one of the nurses told me one day when he came to help Chris. Those words meant so much to me.”

Cath and Chris treasured their last days together at home, supported by family and hospice. Chris died on 20 April 2018.

Cath’s journey matters, and her relationship with hospice matters for her and her family. Each family’s journey is unique and special, and it’s a privilege for us to serve people like Chris with compassionate end of life care.

“I’ve kept volunteering in the garden because it is family and I wouldn’t be as good as I am now if I didn’t have that outlet of being able to go and talk, help and have purpose. My dad now comes along to help in the hospice garden which has been especially helpful as my mum is now receiving hospice care.” Cath explains.

“We planted a kowhai tree in Pakowhai Park in memory of Chris with a plaque that says, ‘he loved and was loved.’ 

“And that’s what it was,” Cath says, “everybody loved him.”  

From Thursday 28 to Saturday 30th March 2019, 400 of our amazing volunteers will be collecting donations on Hawke’s Bay streets. We’re encouraging workplaces, schools and community groups to dress in their best orange outfits, hold a mufti day or a morning tea, and collect for Cranford Hospice.

You can donate securely online here or email us to request a collection bucket for your event or to find out more.

We couldn’t be more grateful for the support that our Hawke’s Bay community gives to ensure those who are dying have a quality of care while they are still living.

Thank you for your support.