15 March, 2021
Colleen Gorbey plans her weeks around mah jong and golf, enjoys friends and neighbours popping in and spends evenings creating photo journals online. It’s a thoroughly normal life that’s also exceptional, considering what she’s been through.
Diagnosed with cancer last year, Colleen experienced a dramatic event which caused her organs to begin shutting down.
Two weeks of intensive care helped reset her physical condition, but the experience meant she had to face changes to her life, both physically and mentally. Her treasured independence was suddenly lost when, for the first time in her life, she simply couldn’t manage on her own.
It was only after months of care and compassion from the Harbour Hospice community team, family and close friends that Colleen’s hope was gradually restored.
Blessed with wonderful neighbours, Colleen received daily visits and thoughtful care packages when she was at her lowest.
With the continued support of generous donors like you, Harbour Hospice can ensure that other patients like Colleen never have to face the future alone, without hope or a strong circle of support.
Colleen is now directing her hope and energy to maintaining and building positive friendships and connections and making the most of every day. Determined to stay active, she has returned to the golf course despite battling tiredness, headaches, and nausea.
Although her health is relatively stable and she once again cherishes her independent life, Colleen still receives regular calls from a hospice nurse, and she recently began attending Hospice’s Open Doors support programme.
Living on her own, Colleen is grateful for the ongoing contact with Hospice and knowing she can share her fears and frustrations. She treasures the unconditional acceptance she receives from every hospice team member, and the hope that she will be supported through each stage of her illness.
“Everybody knows someone who’s had cancer and they think they know what you’re going through, but they have no idea. The judgements and assumptions are hard to deal with.”
“There’s no judgement with Hospice, they’re always warm, friendly and available and that’s very reassuring to me.”
At Open Doors, Colleen met others who were going through their own troubles. No-one’s experience was the same, but they shared the common challenge of living with a life-limiting condition.
“Being with people who are in the same boat makes you feel as if no-one’s judging you. Noone’s giving you advice, but they will help you if you want it.”
One of the more surprising benefits of the support group was realising what she needed after hearing someone else in the group talking about their experience. “The hope and strength you gain by knowing you’re not the only person going through this is so important.”
We depend on the generosity of our community to fund Hospice support programmes that give hundreds of people like Colleen a safe place to connect with others and restore hope.