For Families & Patients

Palliative care supports people with a life-limiting illness and their families to live, die and grieve well.
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A life story

SigridMOULD_TonyaCOURT_4_sm - CompressSigrid has been sharing her life story with Tonya, a palliative care volunteer at Barwon Health and creating a valued legacy for Sigrid to give her family.

Tonya

Sigrid’s story is inspiring – she came out from Germany during the war and had all these amazing life experiences. It’s a beautiful process hearing about the life she’s had, hearing her words and feelings, and the way she is so selfless. She thinks about her daughter rather than herself, and wants to leave her this legacy of her life’s story. When you think of palliative care, these aren’t necessarily the things you conjure up at the end.

My first husband passed away five years ago from stomach cancer, and he was only thirty-five. After going through the process I went through with palliative care, I wanted to give something back. I’m in a place now where I feel comfortable helping people like Sigrid. I can identify, in part, with what they are going through, their families and loved ones, so it is really important for me. It’s something that I love to do.

I’m very passionate about this now, very passionate about helping children and families going through this. It’s been life changing for me, but in positive ways. It’s great meeting beautiful people like Sigrid, because there is amazing clarity that comes when you face your own mortality.

One of the things that struck me about this is that when I first met Sigrid, she was a total stranger, and then all of a sudden, this total stranger is telling me the most intimate details of her life. You can’t help but sometimes strike up a relationship with them, and Sigrid and I are now friends and continue to catch up.

Sigrid

I was introduced to palliative care through my doctor. One of the nurses explained to me my options, and asked how I wanted to be looked after. I said that when it gets that bad, I don’t want to be at home any more. So I’ve been in the hospice for six months, I have made friends and I feed the birds. It only took a day to settle in.

I seem to have known Tonya forever. We got on very well, right from the beginning. We covered virtually my whole life history that I can remember. It was a good thing too because there are probably things that my daughter doesn’t know, and she’s the only one left. She’s been wonderful to me. I lost my oldest daughter with ovarian cancer; they were both absolutely amazing girls. There were downs, of course, but there were also a lot of good things and I want it to be uplifting. I’m very excited about recording my life story now.

I’d like Tonya to know how very much it has helped me, and how much it will help my family when I’m not here. Somehow she dug it out of me and being able to talk to her has been a tremendous help. Just meeting Tonya was a comfort in a way because I made a friend. Everybody that I’ve come across, they’ve all be absolutely amazing, but Tonya sticks out; of course she does. She has done a lot for my children, and my grandchildren. They can say “That’s Granny’s life”, so it’s all good.

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