A family gathers around Joe Bradshaw at Te Omanga Hospice.
The death of Joe Bradshaw was sudden and unexpected.
The Upperhat woman was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in July 2016 and died at the age of 69 just nine months later.
A month after her death, her daughter Karen Hawken and her husband of 46 years, Colin, are still coming to terms with their loss.
The past nine months have been a period of mixed highs and lows.
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Twice she was told she had only a few days to live, and twice she was put on her feet.
The cancer was aggressive and Joe was weeping, making care difficult.
Despite the difficult times, the two agree there were some unexpected highlights.
Te Omanga Hospice not only helped them cope, but also ensured Joe was able to enjoy life to the end.
Colin says he has no words to describe the impact hospice has had on him.
“They were amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything better from a hospice. If they won $10 million, I would give them $5 million.”
They agreed to share their experiences to help people better understand hospice and how it works.
Te Omanga is seeking to raise $10 million to rebuild its Woburn facility. Karen hopes that people will generously help.
It wasn’t just the level of care her mother received that impressed Karen. Her children, 6-year-old Amber and her 7-year-old Taylor, also received a lot of support.
Amber’s birthday happened while her grandmother was in hospice.
They organized a fairy party (filled with fairy dust) so that everyone could have a good time.
Art therapy helped the two girls cope with watching their grandmother disappear, Karen said.
“We all enjoyed the art therapy session and created special cards and messages that we will cherish forever. They are special memories with my mom and our family.”
Joe spent February and March at home with hospice support and was able to make two trips to Gisborne to visit his dying brother.
Hospice also used a biographer to document her life.
The idea that future generations will read about her mother and understand what kind of person she was comforts Karen.
Having no experience in hospices, both Karen and Colin thought hospices were places where people died.
We were both amazed at how much the hospice supported us and how positive the experience was.
The finishing touches for Karen came when her mother died.
“Since there were five of us there, they (the staff) put five roses in her hand.