Words by Kirsty, Renee & Anna Devoy
Our loving husband and father Brendan Devoy was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2011. As terrifying as this was in the beginning, we were all confident that he would recover after his initial surgery and treatment, given that the type of cancer he had was not usually life threatening. Unfortunately, his case was not going to be straight forward and his illness progressed more quickly than we ever could have been prepared for.
When it became apparent that Dad’s condition was becoming more serious and his pain was greater than we could manage at home without specialised care, we were referred to Rotorua Hospice and told they would be able to provide the care and assistance that Dad required. Dad wasn’t happy when it was first suggested that hospice become involved in his care. I think, like a lot of people, he viewed hospice as the end of the line.
Hospice didn’t come into our lives as the end of the road but rather as another tool to provide Dad and all of the family with the support to help fight his cancer. They knew we weren’t ready to ‘throw in the towel’ and they were more than happy to fight alongside us.
Overnight we had all these additional people to fight for Dad and they had the knowledge and experience to make a real difference. We were no longer on this journey alone and the relief that our whole family felt was enormous.
Dad came to refer to the Hospice nurses visiting him as “his ladies” and he looked forward to their daily visits. Up until their involvement he had been putting up with a lot of pain and discomfort, he was unable to lie down comfortably and sleep in bed. Finally he had someone to manage his pain and make him more comfortable. He was even able to go back to sleeping in his own bed.
Despite all of our best efforts and hopes for a different result, in the end Dad did not win his battle and passed away in late January of 2013. During Dad’s final weeks, when we knew the worst was unavoidable, it seemed like Hospice changed gear, without us even realising that it had happened until afterwards. They took charge of Dad’s medical care, leaving us to be the grieving family, focusing on saying our goodbyes knowing that the Hospice nurses were taking care of him and ensuring that he was comfortable.
With a son living in the USA and a daughter in the Philippines, Hospice gave us the advice, and warning that we needed to get all of our family home to be with Dad.
Dad was no longer able to fight and they gave him all the dignity and respect that he deserved right up until the end. It was also important to Dad that he was at home in his final weeks surrounded by his loving wife, four children and some of his grandchildren.
Knowing that we were all there together, and that we had done all we could for Dad, and that he was comfortable and pain free, surrounded by the people who loved him has provided us all with a lot of comfort and still helps with our grieving today. Hospice gave us the ability to make this tragically life changing event as positive an experience as it could possibly have been.
Once Dad passed we would have thought that would have been the end of our journey with Hospice, but after Dad’s death some of the nurses popped in to check on how Mum was doing and would ask after all of us. This really highlighted how genuine and caring the Hospice staff really were.
Thank you Hospice for all you did for Dad and for our whole family at such a difficult time.
Words by Kirsty, Renee & Anna Devoy
Rest in peace 1947 – 2013