At the time, Cheryl would never have imagined she would end up becoming the primary carer for her eldest son William who also had cancer and passed away peacefully at home on last week, aged 44.
For the past seven months, William was able to receive home care, which Cheryl said was only made possible by the tireless and dedicated efforts of Silver Chain’s palliative care team.
“The Silver Chain nurses made it possible for Billy to stay at home which is where he wanted to be.
I couldn’t have done this without them. They were absolute angels,” Cheryl said.
William’s end-of-life story of compassionate care highlights the importance of professional at-home care in the lead up to National Palliative Care Week, May 23-29.
Early last year, William started feeling stomach pains but doctors could not work out what was causing the discomfort – until it was too late. By the end of July, he was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer that had spread to his liver, lymph nodes and bones.
He tried just two rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy but had to stop treatment in October after becoming too weak.
“Billy then started getting palliative care from Silver Chain and I can’t speak highly enough about them (palliative care nurses). They came every day, sometimes twice a day, helping us with everything, whether it was getting advice or managing his pain medication.
“One time I called them at midnight and they were at our house within 14 minutes. They always came in with a smile and cheered him up.
“Having Billy at home meant he could have his mates visit him any time. It wasn’t unusual to have about half a dozen visits a week. It meant so much that Billy could stay at home with me and his brother Brad and have everyone else around him.”
Cheryl said the wake would be held at the Tollgate Hotel where Billy helped run a social club.
Silver Chain delivers in-home palliative care services to 7,000 Australians every year through its palliative care team of more than 500 staff across Western Australia and South Australia for the past 40 years, and in New South Wales for almost eight years.
Silver Chain’s NSW Palliative Care Service provides in-home specialist palliative care services in Western Sydney for people with a life-limiting illness or condition. The palliative care team consists of nurses, clinical nurse consultants and care aides.
Silver Chain’s Research & Innovation Executive Director Dr Anna Barker said the organisation’s palliative care team enables clients to maximise their time with their loved ones while minimising the physical and emotional stress that clients and those close to them may experience.
“Our approach to palliative care ensures that every part of a client’s wellbeing is understood, and their needs are respected and fulfilled including medical care, physical symptoms as well as their spiritual needs,” Dr Barker said.
“National Palliative Care Week is not only a time to recognise the amazing contribution that family members make to helping Australians receive end-of-life care at home, but also the relentless and tireless effort of our staff.
“Study after study has shown us that receiving quality care in our own homes benefits the individual and has macro-economic benefits with demonstrable community health and wellbeing outcomes.
“Our own research demonstrates that 75 per cent of Australians are somewhat or very likely to use in-home care for themselves or a loved one.
“Through the Silver Chain Group, we will continue to advocate for greater access to palliative care services in the home. We believe Australians have earned the right to better health and aged care in the home,” Dr Barker said.