A labour of love com­pleted

Can­cer couldn’t stop one cou­ple bring­ing a run-down house back to life.

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS - By Kelly Den­nett

Arat and flea-rid­dled bun­ga­low in the mid­dle of the Waitak­eres was an un­likely set­ting for ro­mance. But in com­mit­ting to the “doerup­per”, Lee Rush and Paul Far­row com­mit­ted to liv­ing out the fi­nal days of their love story side by side.

“Paul said, ‘Let’s make this our project, be­cause she’s got good bones and she’s beau­ti­ful. Let’s bring this back to life’,” Rush said.

Af­ter nine bot­tles of su­gar soap and four coats of meringue-white paint, the bun­ga­low started to come alive. How­ever, by the time the years-long ren­o­va­tion project con­cluded with the help of the com­mu­nity this week­end, Rush was near death.

The cou­ple, both paramedics, met at work. She was smit­ten af­ter watch­ing him with pa­tients. Three months af­ter the pair got to­gether she was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer. It was Septem­ber 11, 2012.

Treat­ment was gru­elling: Ra­di­a­tion, chemo­ther­apy, a bi-lat­eral mas­tec­tomy, and hor­mone treat­ment. Even­tu­ally, Rush was given the all­clear and the cou­ple found the di­lap­i­dated house, look­ing for a project that had noth­ing to do with can­cer.

The house was a tip. It smelled like urine. “Like four dogs had died in there,” Rush says.

“When we went there it was thun­der and light­ning and I said to Paul, ‘It’s a sign, it’s a sign.’ When we left, I said, ‘At least we won’t be own­ing that shit­hole’.”

A day later they bought it. They liked that the home was built in 1975 — Rush’s birth year.

The cou­ple filled skips with rub­bish and slept in the lounge while slowly trans­form­ing it.

Rush wanted Far­row to have his dream home: “This man had nursed me through can­cer so I fig­ured, he de­serves some­thing he wanted.”

Amid the licks of paint and scrub­bing Rush was in pain. While Rush and Far­row had been busy re­pair­ing the bones of the bun­ga­low, can­cer had crept into hers. A year ago she was given six months to live. The ren­o­va­tions went on the back burner — un­til yes­ter­day.

Thanks to lo­cal man Paul Tre­n­eary and his part­ner So­phie Frowde, the cou­ple will live out the rest of their love story in a fully fin­ished home. Tre­n­eary met para­medic Far­row dur­ing his own health bat­tle and learned the cou­ple was achingly close to fin­ish­ing the ren­o­va­tion — a mas­ter bed­room and en suite the only things left to build.

This week, a call out to the West Auck­land com­mu­nity by Frowde was an­swered by builders, plum­bers, elec­tri­cians, alarm-in­stall­ers, painters, land­scap­ers, car­pet lay­ers, and lo­cal busi­nesses who do­nated food and drink for vol­un­teers. Mitre 10 West­gate gave build­ing ma­te­ri­als, and a bar­be­cue.

When the Her­ald on Sun­day vis­ited yes­ter­day, the ren­o­va­tion came full cir­cle with the down­pour no damp­ener for the scores of tradies who bus­tled around Rush’s bed­side.

One by one they in­tro­duced them­selves, ask­ing things like which car­pet colour she pre­ferred — Muri­wai drift­wood or sand — and how she liked the bar­be­cue.

As she tried to for­mu­late the words to ex­press her grat­i­tude another vol­un­teer would ar­rive, she says.

Far­row said the gen­eros­ity was “sur­real”. “I’m lost for words.”

The bun­ga­low, filled with love and light, is where Rush ex­pects to live out her fi­nal days, cared for by Far­row and her sis­ter full time. Pic­tures on her phone show its progress, and her “lasts” — the last time she was able to stand on the bal­cony, the last time she had a spa in the bush.

At night Far­row sleeps as close as he can to Rush’s hos­pi­tal bed. She says they hold hands, have a kiss and cud­dle and count their bless­ings, look­ing for­ward to the next day.

“I would not wish for another life,” Rush says. “I would wish my­self well but I wouldn’t wish another life from the one I have be­cause the one I have is re­ally, re­ally beau­ti­ful.

“Look at this stud of a man. He has been my best friend.”

“I wouldn’t wish for another life be­cause the one I have is beau­ti­ful.”

Lee Rush

Nick Reed

Paul Far­row and Lee Rush in the once-di­lap­i­dated Waitakere bun­ga­low they ren­o­vated with the help of vol­un­teers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.