A Letter to Treasure: one family's special journey
At Cranford Hospice we have the privilege of meeting some very special people.
We are honoured to share this heart-felt letter from the Uelese family, capturing the very essence of Hospice care.
The Uelese family (from left): Shaqaila, Alieta, Khalael, Api and Roshan.
To the caring team at Cranford
My husband Moapi (Api) Uelese was privileged to stay at Cranford Hospice for a few weeks in September 2012.
It has been just over 12 months since he died in October 2012 and I have wanted to express my thanks in words but just haven't been able to until now.
I wanted to let you know what a wonderful blessing it was for our whole family to spend some time in your beautiful place.
Api was diagnosed with myeloma in February 2011 after seeing our doctor with an irritating blood nose that wouldn't stop. Apparently he had myeloma for a long time and was already at Stage 3. He was a strong, healthy, sporty, beautiful person with such a vibrant personality and a spirit larger than life. He was always positive through all the treatments we tried (traditional and alternative) and didn't complain much about the pain and toll it was taking on him physically and spiritually. By the time he had the stem cell transplant in February 2012 he was physically exhausted but still considered strong enough to endure the process. He enjoyed a reprieve for a short few weeks before the cancer spread with a vengeance.
It was difficult to watch him deteriorate from the giant of a man I fell in love with, into the fragile person he became – fragile in body but never in spirit. It was frustrating for him to be trapped in a body that would not function as it should and I watched him move through the “phases” as he tried hard to remain positive: depression, despair, helplessness.
Coming to hospice was a scary prospect. The perception was that it was a place where people ‘came to die' when in fact it is a place where lucky people ‘come to live'.
It was there at the hospice that our whole family were able to rest, to sit, to bond, to support and love the time we had together.
Api was happy because he felt safe. With the sickness being taken care of, we were then able to concentrate on ourselves, our kids, our families and friends.
It was a blessing to be able to be in such a beautiful, peaceful environment – where I could sleep beside my husband and have our kids stay too when they wanted. We were the noisy family – the ones who played the piano and had family sing-alongs in the family lounge!
My husband and I were able to talk about things in the middle of the night because he felt comfortable there. We were able to talk about the future for me and the kids without him.
Our kids were able to sit by their dad and receive counsel about their futures, ask him questions about himself and do things they couldn't do at home because our room looked like a drug centre and they felt they had to be careful around him all the time.
We were even able to enjoy some time in the Sanctuary room, and still now we can go into that room and feel at peace instantly. We feel that same special feeling in the gardens as well.
Our daughter Roshan (15) visited Cranford after school one day. She had been thinking about her father at school and found herself walking all the way from Hastings Girls High School to Cranford - she just wanted to sit in the Sanctuary and play the piano. She found the peace and solace she needed and that has been a blessing for her.
Our eldest daughter Shaqaila (19) is at Massey University in Wellington, and decided to complete a Piano Marathon leading up to Api's anniversary. She has great memories of our family time at Cranford Hospice and was pleased to be able to raise some money as her way of saying “thanks”.
I'm thankful for the wonderful people who work and volunteer there, for the beautiful healing, peaceful environment and facilities that inspire feelings of positivity and love. We will be forever grateful.
Alieta, Shaqaila, Roshan and Khalael