29 May, 2019

If you had a terminal illness, what moments would matter most to you?

andrew beach

When 32-year-old Andrew Porteous became a Harbour Hospice patient, a support team wrapped around him and his family to ensure he could live every moment, enjoy milestone celebrations with his kids, and even see his favourite band play live!

Hospice is not just for the elderly or for those with cancer. Hospice opens its arms to anyone with a life-limiting illness regardless of their age, ethnicity or circumstances. This means we see young people and families with heart-breaking stories of loss and grief.

In these times of utter distress, it’s often hospice that brings light to an otherwise dark time, helping patients and families navigate difficult decisions and focus on making the most of their time together.

Young or old, dying can be scary. Harbour Hospice strives to remove the fear associated with death and help people live every moment over the coming days, weeks and months, in whatever way is most important to them.

When Andrew was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, the only thing that mattered was his wife Emma and their two children, three-year-old Lauren and newborn Martin.

As a young father, the last word he expected to hear was ‘hospice’. He immediately thought “I’m too young for hospice” and “I’ll be giving up hope of ever being cancer free”. But instead, Andrew’s hope was strengthened.

It was no longer just about Andrew’s illness, but about providing enduring support to his young family, ensuring they knew what was happening and were never alone.

The hospice nurse told Emma, ‘I’m here for you for the whole journey and I will not let you down’. “Her sincerity was incredible. I believed her, and she was always there.”

Even more touching was prioritising the moments that meant so much to Andrew. This included attending a Foo Fighters’ concert, for which he had bought tickets before he became unwell.

The hospice nurses overheard Andrew’s distress about missing the concert. He was desperate to be there but at this point he was extremely unwell.

Thanks to the support of people like you, and despite many hurdles, hospice helped make his final dream come true.

The nursing staff taught Emma how to manage his medication while they were out of the inpatient unit, and the Family Support Team spent time with his friends to give them the confidence and reassurance they needed.

“The staff were even waiting at the door when we came back – it was like Mum and Dad waiting for us to come home,” Emma recalls.

This is what makes your local hospice unique. The services extend so much further than managing symptoms. Despite common perceptions, hospice focuses on living, not dying.

With your continued support we can reach more patients like Andrew and create lifelong memories for families and friends.

Just as hospice appreciates that people have different hopes and desires, we also understand that patients have differing needs about how and where they are cared for.

Andrew received hospice care both at home and in one of our inpatient units. He decided that when the time came to say goodbye he would do it from the calming, home-like surroundings of hospice. Emma was often there with him, and with the support of the doctors and nurses, she was able to say goodbye in the way she needed to. “Hospice helped us hold it all together till the end.”

Emma, and people like you, are the reason we exist. With only 53% of our operating costs covered by the Waitematā District Health Board, we need your donation today to enable hospice care to continue in your community.

Wherever you live, Harbour Hospice gives patients the ability to access all of our services across three communities that include North Shore, Hibiscus Coast and Warkworth Wellsford. However, you gift today will go directly towards creating special moments for the patients in your local community.

We hope you will consider a donation that will create more lasting memories and significant moments for patients who urgently need hospice care – people like Andrew and Emma.

andrew and emma beach

"Hospice couldn’t have looked after Andrew without the support of people like you. Please join me by continuing your support with a donation today, so that Hospice can help create special moments and lifelong memories that will be forever cherished."

Emma Eaglen-Porteous.