29 April, 2021
After many years of supporting Harbour Hospice alongside her husband Terry, Margaret Dunleavy is now being cared for at home by our community team, with her family by her side. She is just one of hundreds of patients right now who rely on your generosity, so that we can keep families together when it matters most.
The faint sound of a flute being played can be heard through Margaret’s open bedroom window. Her daughter Clare adjusts Margaret’s hearing aid so she can hear the music better. Their neighbour is playing especially for Margaret because she knows this simple gift of music from over the fence means so much to her.
It’s this deep sense of community that explains why Margaret Dunleavy, husband Terry and their 11 children have called North Shore home for almost 50 years. And now with Margaret receiving care from Harbour Hospice, in tandem with hands-on family support, there is no place they’d rather be.
Margaret has lymphoma and has been receiving Hospice care in her Takapuna home for six months. With her loving ‘army’ of family carers by her side, supported by Hospice and a committed GP, this is where she wants to spend the rest of her days.
“They’re like a warm, comforting blanket that wraps around your whole family.” Clare Dunleavy
But daughter Clare, who is one of her main caregivers, admits it would have been impossible to keep her at home without Hospice. “The level of care, comfort and assurance is indescribable,” she says.
“There have been times when I’ve felt fear and desperation in the middle of the night but when I phone Hospice I instantly feel less alone.”
Margaret and Terry with their great grandchild Olive
Margaret’s journey hasn’t been easy, with three rounds of chemotherapy in recent years taking its toll. Now weighing just 32kg she sometimes lacks the energy to get out of bed. But on a very good day, she sneaks out to her beloved garden to tend her roses.
Hospice community nurses not only help to ease Margaret’s pain and troublesome symptoms so she can enjoy her garden, but also give peace of mind to husband Terry and the family. “It’s not just the professional skill, but the obvious compassion and genuine care from everyone you meet,” Terry says.
A love story…that almost wasn’t
Margaret and Terry’s love story began at her 21st birthday party in Pahiatua - although Terry admits that his beloved wife wasn’t at all interested in him to begin with. “I arrived late, this city slicker Aucklander, looking dishevelled with my tie flung over my shoulder and that’s how she first saw me,” Terry remembers fondly.
But his persistence paid off and now after 70 years of marriage, they’re the proud patriarch and matriarch of a large family of 11 children, 19 grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Having spent their lives taking care of their family, now it’s time for the children to give back, and each takes their turn to help care for Margaret and check in on their Dad.
Says Clare, “She’s an incredible mother. There are times we thought we’d lose her, but with the care of Hospice and the love of our family around her she’s still here.
“Hospice provides a caring and loving environment like no other. They hold your hand from the very start.”
Adds Terry, “We’ve supported the work of hospice for a long time, but it’s not until it affects your own family that you realise the true impact of their work in our community.”
The ability for Harbour Hospice to care for Margaret, and support her, Terry and their family, relies on the generosity of our community. This level of care, comfort and support only exists because of you.