Joanne Jackson – proving hospice isn’t just a place to die
It’s not every day you meet someone who has a rollercoaster at their home, a swing bridge, flying fox and a hedge maze to complete a dream adventure playground for children.
This was the dream for Joanne Jackson and husband Trevor, to share their pristine property that they have created with their 5 children and 8 grandchildren. Unfortunately, this dream is being cut short. It is with admiration when you talk to Joanne how positive she is after such a rough journey with her health. She looks at each day as a new one and is grateful for what that day might bring. “I’m a very positive person, I don’t like being told timeframes… you get up, greet each day and be grateful,” says Joanne.
At 45 years of age Joanne was diagnosed with breast cancer. With treatment, she fought the disease and was given the all clear. Unbeknown to Joanne she was cursed with the BRCA 2 gene. In 2016 she was experiencing persistent back pain but attributed this to the amount of gardening she was doing at the time. In 2017 things became much more serious when a tumour burst in her stomach, and she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Joanne had her ovaries removed and underwent various forms of treatment, including paying for specific cancer drugs. In 2019 Joanne and Trevor embarked on a trip of a lifetime travelling around Europe for two months while Joanne continued her drug treatment. Unfortunately, in 2021 the cancer had metastasized and had become chemo resistant. In September, Joanne had a bowel obstruction which resulted in an 8 day inpatient stay at Arohanui Hospice.
For the past 9 years Joanne has owned and operated the Carter’s tyre shop in Pahiatua. Prior to this she was an enrolled community nurse for 35 years, while her children were growing up. Even with a medical background, it was her admission to hospice that challenged her misconception of hospice care. Like many, Joanne believed you came to hospice to die. “I thought you got the pump in the old shoulder, got put into bed in hospice, and that’s it, curtains in 3-4 days,” says Joanne.
She has since discovered that the service is much more than this, Joanne explains her stay. “All the staff are just like a happy family, everyone just tootles in and asks, ‘How’s your day going?’ You felt at ease, you feel part of the team. It’s an amazing caring place, you’re not alone. Even though you’re discharged and you go home, you are not alone, they are always with you; you have their support.”
Trevor was surprised by the feeling at hospice, comparing this to previous medical experiences. “The hospice had such a different atmosphere to the hospital,” said Trevor. They were both amazed that the hospice isn’t fully funded by the government. “It amazes me that hospice has to rely on donations,” said Trevor. It is with gratitude that we accept this story of Joanne’s hospice journey as a gift. Sharing her experience with hospice, with the hope that this will help others, to learn how hospice cares within the community and it isn’t just a place you just come to die.
Since writing this story it’s with sadness that we report that Joanne Jackson died at Arohanui Hospice, aged 63 years.