While reaching the 100th birthday milestone may no longer seem extraordinary, Adelaide great-grandmother Jean Croxton has overcome major health obstacles to become a centenarian.
The Morphett Vale resident’s dream came true recently as she celebrated her 100th birthday, thanks in part to care and support from the Royal District Nursing Service that spans back more than seven decades.
“When I was 12, a horrific accident left me with third degree burns. I should have died,” Ms Croxton said. “I loved dancing and singing – I used to open shows. But that all had to stop, and my focus was on survival. Then at 21, I was given 18 months to live after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.”
After spending three months in hospital, Mrs Croxton beat the odds and has lived with a stoma for close to 80 years. RDNS believes Mrs Croxton is our most loyal living customer, first receiving care and treatment from the service in 1943.
Founded in 1894, RDNS is one of South Australia’s largest in-home health and community nursing provider. This means Mrs Croxton has been an RDNS client for more than half the organisation’s life.
“I first engaged with RDNS in my twenties – they have been lifesavers,” Mrs Croxton said. “I even had a District Nurse at my wedding.”
Mrs Croxton said while her life had not always been easy, she learnt to make the most of it.
“In the early years I was able to go to work. I looked after both my mother and the baby daughter I was given after my sister died in childbirth,” she said.
“I met a wonderful, supportive man and we were married. The doctors always said that my life could be cut short at any time, but I never let that stand in the way of living and loving life to the fullest.”
It was this positive outlook on life that earned Jean a spot carrying the Olympic Torch at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games; recognition for many years of community service as a fitness instructor for the War Widow’s Guild.
Jean said she now relies on RDNS for personal care, as well as the nursing services she has received for decades.
“Not only have RDNS helped me with my stoma, I have had falls and they have supported me throughout my recovery," Mrs Croxton said.
“I would be lost without them.”
RDNS Case Coordinator Alison Swallow has been helping Ms Croxton for years and says she’s an inspiration for all.
“Jean is a truly inspiring lady. She always puts a smile on my face and puts into perspective what’s important in life,” Mrs Swallow said.
Ms Croxton also shared some other secrets to her longevity.
“Diet and exercise are important, and so is being content with what you have,” Ms Croxton said. “I was meant to die when I was a young girl, but I have had a lot of love given back to me, that has kept me going.”