02 September, 2020

In the early days of their relationship, Lorraine and Kevin Walker spent 10 days travelling in the Coromandel, pitching their tent under ‘No Camping’ signs and making memories that still make them smile.

Lorraine and Kevin Walker 3

They’ve revisited many of those places in the 33 years since, and Lorraine and Kevin are planning another trip in summer. They can look forward to travelling because you and others in our community support the Hospice services that help Lorraine manage her illness.

Lorraine was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in January last year, and the outlook was so serious that she started contacting local funeral homes. The following months were a rollercoaster of stable periods interspersed with frequent ‘crashes’ and a steady decline in mobility.

This time last year it was pretty grim,” Lorraine says. “The family were expecting me to drop dead at any minute and dealing with the emotional fallout of that.”

During a stay in hospital, Lorraine was referred to Harbour Hospice and transferred by ambulance to the North Shore Inpatient Unit.

Hospice’s medical team reviewed her medications, adjusted dosages to stabilise her condition, and swapped syringes for pills, making it easier to take.

With her health remaining stable and even improving over the last seven months, Lorraine was able to cope through the Level 4 lockdown with regular phone calls from Hospice’s community nurses.

Lorraine regained some energy and appetite – helped by delicious and nourishing meals from the hospice kitchen – and returned home with a brighter outlook.

She welcomed Level 2 though, because it meant she could return to the Open Doors programme at Tui House in Warkworth. With most of her friends working, the Tuesday groups give Lorraine welcome social contact while also giving Kevin a break – which he often spends fossicking in the Hospice Garage Sale downstairs.

“At the day group, you get to talk to people with all sorts of ailments on an equal basis,” Lorraine says. “They’re all open and friendly and ready to make suggestions about what you can do to improve things.”

Open Doors is run by a Hospice staff member and trained volunteers, and provides a safe place for patients to express thoughts and concerns they may feel reluctant to share with others. Lorraine adds that “sometimes people don’t want to talk about the hard stuff” and that’s when they most appreciate the talks and activities such as relaxation techniques, flax flower making and manicures.

Lorraine and Kevin have also benefited from sessions with a Hospice counsellor, a social worker helped them apply for a Community Services Card, and Lorraine was delighted when she could resume her regular massages with a hospice therapist.

Lorraine says it’s comforting to know that Hospice will be there for her and Kevin when her illness progresses. For now, though, she is looking forward to being part of a Harbour Hospice group at the annual Race4Life Track Day at Hampton Downs in September – and of course, a nostalgia trip with Kevin to their number one holiday destination.

By making a donation to Hospice we can continue to provide compassionate, specialist care to people living with life-limiting illness and support to their families. To make a gift, please click on the community you wish to support.