These are real stories of people facing the end of their lives. They are about love, freedom, family, home, joy, purpose and trust. They don’t take life for granted. They focus on what matters most.
I met Toni in 2003 at a university ball and we had our whole lives ahead of us. She became an accountant, human resources professional and later found her calling in teaching and helping students with special needs. She loved her family, her friends, our little dog Zoe, her crafts and keeping fit. She was always so happy.
Toni was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer just four months after our wedding in 2010.
The next five years we had a great life. We focused on what is most important. We traveled, renovated our home, saw musicals, raised a puppy, spent quality time with ourselves, family and friends and lived a very full life.
Palliative care is more supportive care. It can bring more joy and extend the time you’ve got.
Toni loved the music therapy. It helped managed her anxiety. It was a highlight of the week where she could beat a drum, tap a keyboard and sing her favorite 90s classics in the comfort of our living room, even when it became harder to speak.
Toni loved walking every day. Towards the end it got harder for her. The palliative care physiotherapist gave Toni exercises and a brace for her foot so she could continue to walk. She was so happy when we could complete a lap of the park together again, for her it was equal to a marathon (which later she inspired me to run in her honour). She even went for a walk on her last day. Maintaining her mobility up until then ensured a better quality of life.
We had all those hard conversations with the help of the pastoral care worker who looked after her spiritual and emotional well-being. At times Toni was scared but through these sessions it never got the better of her or impacted how we wanted to live our life. It helped Toni when she was alive. It helps me a lot now. We left nothing unsaid. Not having any regrets with Toni is the biggest single thing that has helped me.
Palliative care made those last eight months of Toni’s life even fuller.
Toni died at home. We had discussed all her wishes and it made that time easier.
Palliative care was a big support to us. The grief counselling has helped me too. I wouldn’t be doing so well without it.