A haven of peace

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By DANIELLE STREET

SOME peo­ple think Mercy Hospice is just a place where sick peo­ple go to die. But ter­mi­nally ill pa­tient Jo Walsh sees it as a haven.

The Mt Al­bert res­i­dent was told 18-months ago that the breast can­cer she had beaten in 2006 had re­turned and spread through­out her body.

Mrs Walsh was un­aware of the hospice un­til a vis­it­ing friend saw that she wasn’t do­ing so well and sug­gested she needed some help. How­ever her fear of hos­pi­tals held her back.

‘‘Ini­tially I said no. I knew I was ter­mi­nally ill. I knew there was no cure, but the term ‘hospice’ at the time meant to me The End,’’ the mother-of-two says.

She re­sisted go­ing for three months while hospice nurses vis­ited her to check up and help with med­i­ca­tions.

‘‘They never gave up. Even­tu­ally one of them con­vinced me to go into Open­ing Doors [a day stay pro­gramme] and one of the nurses sug­gested I look up­stairs.

‘‘There was some­thing about it that was so peace­ful. When I was shown into one of the rooms there was no way I could say it wasn’t for me. It just seemed to scream out, ‘come here - you need it’.’’

There are three cat­e­gories of ad­mis­sion into the In-Pa­tient Unit at Mercy Hospice rang­ing from a few days of respite care through to care for the fi­nal days of life.

Mrs Walsh was ad­mit­ted into the sec­ond cat­e­gory where some­one could help mon­i­tor her med­i­ca­tion, as well as treat­ing her spir­i­tual, emo­tional and phys­i­cal needs to make her life more tol­er­a­ble.

‘‘When they say they are the ‘ cloak of mercy’, that’s what it felt like,’’ she says.

‘‘I could just feel this sense of peace for the first time in my re­cent ill­ness.’’

Mrs Walsh re­turned home to her fam­ily af­ter 14 days but her time at Mercy Hospice is firmly im­printed on her mind.

‘‘You come out nearly your­self again and that’s what you want,’’ Mrs Walsh says.

‘‘Even though you know you’re not go­ing to get bet­ter, and some­times that’s fright­en­ing, it’s good to know there is a place to go.’’

A spokesman for the hospice says fear is a com­mon feel­ing when pa­tients and fam­i­lies are first ad­mit- ted to Mercy Hospice in Pon­sonby.

‘‘One of the myths we are hop­ing to break is we aren’t just a build­ing where peo­ple come to die. We of­fer symp­tom and pain man­age­ment for pa­tients and respite care for fam­i­lies.’’

The hospice is hold­ing it’s an­nual aware­ness cam­paign this week.

‘‘This Aware­ness Week we are hop­ing to raise $200,000 to help cover the an­nual Pa­tient Ser­vices costs in­volved with run­ning our 13-bed In­Pa­tient Unit.’’

Do­na­tions will re­source the IPU with vi­tal med­i­cal sup­plies and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

They will also help pay for other as­pects of treat­ment such as x-rays, am­bu­lance trans­porta­tion and the rental of spe­cial­ist pal­lia­tive care equip­ment.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Cloak of mercy: Jo Walsh is ter­mi­nally ill with can­cer and says stay­ing at Mercy Hospice’s In-Pa­tient Unit of­fered some peace for the first time dur­ing her re­cent ill­ness.

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