Faye Clark's Message

Faye Clark's Message

Faye Clark knows first-hand what it’s like to be in hospice care, and she is determined to share her experience with others in the hope that they will adopt the same positive outlook.

In 2009 Faye was diagnosed with myeloma – an incurable form of cancer that affects the cells in bone marrow, leading to corrosion of the bones.

As treatment Faye underwent two stem cell transplants to fight the cancer until the process began to take its toll. “You would have to spend four weeks in isolation because your immune system is seriously compromised by the radical chemotherapy,” says Faye. She says the treatment became very hard on her physically, as well as mentally and emotionally. For these reasons, Faye has since made the decision to end all treatment
– a decision, she says, that was easily made in her circumstances.

Faye never imagined that she would need hospice care - it was her GP that recommended that she considered it, however, a reluctant Faye thought otherwise. “I said to him – I don’t think so,” said Faye,“but he assured me that it’s not about dying, it’s about quality of life, and I think that is something we must try and remember, because people expect that death is imminent when you go to hospice.”

When asking Faye why she thought people were reluctant to utilise hospice services, she replied by saying that she thought people assumed they could only come to hospice for their last few days, and what people may not realise is that they could let hospice into their lives much earlier than that, and that there were many benefits in doing so.

With this new outlook on hospice care, Faye had begun receiving massage therapy from one of the volunteer physiotherapists at Hospice Waikato, Carrie Rauber, in 2013.

She has been seeing Carrie ever since. “The massage therapy is hugely important – especially for people that are living alone. Human touch and healing touch are very important,” says Faye.

Regular home visits from the nurses were also part of Faye’s care. These visits then became less frequent, sometimes three months apart, as her symptoms became more manageable. Faye knew that she could just call if she needed a nurse and they would be there. Knowing that she could do so whenever she needed made her feel safe. For Faye, it was a great reassurance.

During her time spent with Hospice Waikato, Faye has had the opportunity to ‘tick a few things off the bucket list’. With the help of the Race for Life Trust and Hospice Waikato, she was able to join others in Race for Life at Hampton Downs where she got to drive a number of vintage cars, an Aston Martin and a Harley Davidson, to name a few. Faye confessed to being a bit of a petrol-head, unbeknown to Hospice Waikato staff.

Faye and her daughter, Shona, were also given the opportunity to partake in the Forgotten World Adventures 20 Tunnel Experience – an 80km journey from Okahukura to Whangamomona by rail cart. “We chugged along on these little golf carts looking like Hobbits on holiday,” Faye recalls.

What started out as regular visits from Hospice Waikato staff and volunteers has now become full time care for Faye as her required level of care has changed. “It’s like wrap-around care. I didn’t realise just what kind of wrap around care it was until I came and actually stayed in hospice,” she said. “It is holistic, the staff are absolutely, unbelievably wonderful, they make you feel precious and worthwhile.”

These days, Faye is managing to spend some evenings at home and return to Hospice Waikato Inpatient Unit the following day,
which she feels very lucky to be doing. She has even had a visit from her long-term hairdresser who made a special trip into town to visit Faye in the Inpatient Unit for a cut and blow wave.

Faye’s main concern is that she has not yet finished all of the things she’s wanted to do. As well as making sure she distributes photographs and precious gifts amongst her family, she is also working on some document boxes that she has had made.

The boxes, one made from recycled Kauri, one from recycled Rimu and one from recycled American Ash, hold very special treasures such as Plunket books, school reports, a lock of hair from Faye’s first haircut and gifts handed down to Faye through generations.

Knowing that these treasures will be passed on to her family gives her a great feeling. “I know that without the help of hospice I would not have been able to get these things done”.

When asked if she had anything to say to someone who may be considering hospice care for themselves or a loved one, Faye
said “Just give it a go – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain”

- Rachael Bish,
Hospice Waikato