Love until the very end
Brave story provides solace for palliative care awareness
DARLENE Streek has truly been to hell and back, but the gruelling four-year journey that eventually led to her becoming the full-time carer of husband Ron sent her on a new life path.
“Why is God taking my beautiful man,” she thought.
After a heart-breaking diagnosis that numbered the days of her beloved partner’s life, Mrs Streek said she spiralled through all the stages of grief almost immediately.
“Some of us grieve after death; I was experiencing mine while caring for him,” she said.
Strong and determined to fight his Non-Specific Interstitial Pneumonitis, Mr Streek worked as a plumber for over three years post-diagnosis, however, he was forced into retirement just nine months before he died
“That nine-month span was the most meaningful, hardest, gut-wrenching time of my life,” she said.
Last week Australia honoured National Palliative Care Week.
Events across the nation were held to raise understanding for the service and also attempted to answer one question, what matters most?
For Mrs Streek it was about life’s little luxuries, whether that was a morning walk or the occasional scene scape.
The 68-year-old shared her story at the Kawana Community centre to families and carers currently travelling down a similar road. She addressed many subjects including the importance of self-care, allowing oneself to grieve and gave a perspective of what care facilities on the Sunshine Coast really offer.
“I have now volunteered at Dove Cottage Palliative Care for nearly three years and have found it the most peaceful and beautiful environment. All your needs are catered for,” she said.
“To spend your last days in this environment is truly special and it is a privilege to volunteer alongside this dedicated team.”
Mrs Streek hopes her story and last week’s awareness campaign will help shed a sparkle of light for those facing utter darkness.
JUST BREATHE: Darlene Streek now volunteers at Dove's Cottage Palliative Care Facility and gives residents and carers relaxing massages.