Lynette's Story

Practical and emotional support when every moment counts

When time was limited, Lynette and her family wanted one thing above all.

For most of her life, Lynette was a vibrant and healthy woman. Described by those who knew her as "the life of the party", she gave her four children a happy childhood and always pitched in where she could, volunteering for canteen duty and Saturday sport barbeques.

In her late 40s, Lynette trained to become a qualified naturopath, an achievement she took great pride in. She also continued to stay active during her 50s, working as an office manager in her son Phil’s coffee business.

So, it was a shock to all her loved ones when, at the age of 54, Lynette was told she had less than two years to live. The cervical cancer she had developed in 2013 had returned as an incurable disease that spread to her chest.

Lynette’s family was devastated. Spending quality time with their mum and giving her the best care possible became their top priority.

Lynette's family stands together at a park holding a picture of her as they honour her memory

When Lynette began experiencing significant pain from the cancer, her oncologist introduced her to palliative care at HammondCare Neringah Hospital. Lynette initially resisted being treated and only visited the hospital for a short time.

However, when her pain increased she returned for a second and third visit. Lynette herself asked to return for the third time.

“By that third visit, Neringah was the only place mum wanted to be because everyone there was just incredible,” says Lynette’s son, Phil. “She liked having familiar faces that she could forge friendships with.”

HammondCare soon became an invaluable source of support – not just for Lynette, but also for her family. Before moving into Neringah permanently, Lynette lived alone in an apartment and her children looked after all her daily needs on top of caring for their own families.

Caring for Lynette’s medical needs was a difficult job that was getting in the way of the family spending special time with her. Above everything, what they wanted and needed most was precious quality time with Lynette. But it seemed so hard to achieve.

Lynette was on high levels of pain medication and took different drugs several times a day. Filling her prescriptions and ensuring she took the correct dosage was stressful, especially as Lynette would often forget what she had taken during the day.

Once Lynette moved to Neringah, HammondCare staff cared for all her practical and medical needs. More significantly, they did this with a smile, her family says. It was about emotional support too.

The relatives of HammondCare palliative care patient Lynette

“Mum was petrified the first time they had to shower her. But they soon made her feel so comfortable,” says Phil. “They never made mum feel strange or embarrassed.”

HammondCare’s focus is always on ensuring that patients like Lynette are treated with genuine respect and dignity. That they are cared for in a manner they feel at ease with.

It was also a huge reprieve for the family. “We would go for a walk for 20 minutes and it was done; that was the hugest relief,” says Phil. “We could just focus on mum, and spending time with her without worrying about anything else.”

Lynette’s carers at Neringah also provided support and reassurance to her children. They answered any questions the family had about their mother’s condition and what was happening to her in those final months, weeks and days.

“We know that we gave mum everything she could have had at the end. We don’t look back and think: we should have done this, we should have done that. We just talk about mum.”

At HammondCare, providing emotional support like this is just as important as the medical side of things, for both the patient and their family. This complete approach to care can often be the element that makes the real difference to patients and their family feeling at peace with the situation.

When Lynette eventually passed away in December last year, she was surrounded by her family who didn’t leave her side. Phil believes his mum “couldn’t have had a nicer send off.”

“As much as we’ve grieved, I think it has been assisted by the fact that mum was in such a great place at Neringah,” Phil says.

Learn more about HammondCare's palliative and supportive care here.