A dedication to a grandmother’s love and tenacity
Julie’s beaming smile and peals of laughter belied the fact that she was ill. At our weekly support group, Julie was the one lifting everyone else’s spirits, full of positive energy and optimism.
Julie was a Helderberg Hospice patient for over five years. Originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, Julie had a mastectomy and recovered well after the operation. It was only two years later, when the cancer returned, this time in her leg, that she sought support and assistance from us.
Over five years, Julie’s health slowly declined. As each cancer reared and was bravely beaten into submission with treatment and, it sometimes seems, sheer will-power, so it stubbornly arose again in another part of her body. The constant battle was exhausting, yet not once did you see Julie show signs of giving in.
A long time attendee of our fortnightly support group, Julie was a real character and was always ready to help and support the other patients. She was also a regular patient in our 24 Hour Support Centre, where patients may stay for up to two weeks at a time receiving intensive palliative care. Julie took it upon herself to help other patients in the centre whilst she was there, buoying them up and entertaining them with amusing stories and anecdotes.
One of the reasons that Julie was so determined to hold on was for her granddaughter Molly. She was mother to the vulnerable little girl, educating her, protecting her, sheltering her, and most of all, loving her.
In this little girl’s life, nothing was taken for granted, not her safety nor her next meal, Julie was her rock. There was nothing Julie wouldn’t do for Molly, no hardships she would not suffer and she often went without, so that Molly could have what she needed. To leave this world without being assured of Molly’s safety, was unthinkable for Julie.
Aware of the limited time available, our concerned social workers focussed their efforts on Julie’s case to find a solution for Molly. Our interdisciplinary team worked together intensively to ensure that Molly would be in safe hands, and well looked after, once she no longer had Julie to care for her.
Finally assured of her grandchild’s safety and security, Julie was able to let go, her spirit at last at rest. We all miss her smile, laugh and uplifting attitude, especially in our support group and the 24 Hour Support Centre.
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*Name changed to protect the patient’s privacy