March e-news: Footprints in the sand

Written by Thomas Harris

My precious mum Sharon Harris, died in the Mary Potter Hospice on 24 February 2016. Mum was my best friend and losing her hit me hard. A woman who never gave up until the end no matter what was thrown at her during her battle with cancer.

During the first few months of her treatment Mum spent time at the Mary Potter Hospice and she often talked about her stay there and how as time drew nearer to her passing she had a strong desire to spend her last days there.

I remember the last time she was admitted to hospital. Unfortunately, the Hospice was full but her time was drawing near and she needed extra help with her care. She told the nurse not to unpack her bag because she wasn’t going to die in that ward. She was going to die in Mary Potter – just as she had planned! My mum was a very determined person.

A few days later she got her wish and was transferred to the Mary Potter Hospice.

Mum was only in the Hospice for three days, but in that time the staff cared for Mum so beautifully. Even in ways you would never expect. Every time I hear a Neil Diamond song it takes my mind back to Mum and the music playing in the background in her room. The nurses allowed us to have Mum’s phone playing a variety of her favourite music including Neil Diamond and Icehouse. This was such a nice touch and the staff did everything they could to make Mum as comfortable as possible.

The Hospice staff looked after our family too. We could drop in to see Mum at any time of the day or night and stay as long as we wanted to. And there was always a friendly smile, a reassuring hug, a hot cup of coffee and something to eat in the kitchen.

After Mum passed, I felt I needed to do something to honour her and thank the Hospice for what they did for us but I didn’t know what to do. Then I heard about the Walk for Love.

So, three months after losing Mum, I formed a team with my partner Cerys and Mum’s two sisters Jo and Sally, and we walked in her memory in the 2016 Walk for Love.

Mum would have loved our team name – Footprints in the Sand. Mum loved the beach – especially Normanville. It was a special place for her – somewhere she always loved visiting. And it is a phrase that if we ever feel lost or needing comfort we will always find her footprints in the sand and know she is not far.

Being involved in the Walk for Love last year was a great decision and we are looking forward to being a part of it again. To be surrounded by so many people who understand what you are going through is very special.

Fundraising for the walk was so easy. To encourage support I said I would colour my hair if we raised over $500. We created a fundraising page and I wrote a few words about Mum and the Hospice. Donations started coming in straight away and before we knew it we had raised over $1,400. This was an amazing achievement and all for an amazing cause.

Please join us at the walk this year. Whether you have had a recent loss or it was many years ago – it doesn’t matter. And I urge you to fundraise. You don’t have to colour your hair like I did, but every dollar will make such a difference for someone just like my mum.

We would like to thank Thomas for sharing his story. It was very brave of him to come on the walk so soon after saying goodbye to his mum. And as a result of his team's fundraising efforts a patient received 190 hours of subsidised care. This made it possible for a nurse to give a patient the care they needed and the time to find their “Neil Diamond” moment.

Please save the date and join us on Sunday 21 May for our Walk for Love.

New event website coming soon!