One year ago, Kuben Padayachie sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer. His wife, Aradhna, is grateful to the team at Tōtara Hospice who helped them in many ways since his diagnosis and, as Aradhna says, are “still very much a part of our lives today.”
Kuben was first diagnosed after experiencing ongoing stomach pains. At that time, options such as Hospice were discussed but the family had so much to process and were trying to make sense of it all.
A few months later a nurse gently told them that it was time to make contact, so they talked to Tōtara Hospice. Aradhna remembers, “From that point on there was a team of people supporting us at every stage.”
While Kuben was at home, the Tōtara Hospice community nurses would visit in between chemotherapy appointments. Initially the nurses helped with pain management, then later would offer practical support and guidance with the complications from chemotherapy. These checks became more frequent until the nurses were a daily fixture in the Padayachie home.
Tōtara Hospice also provided a physiotherapist who helped Kuben with exercises for his circulation when he was unable to get out of bed.
Aradhna reflects, “Every person we were in touch with was so compassionate and caring. They gave us guidance and support on both a practical and emotional level, from leaving supplies and organising prescriptions to just being on the end of the phone to give advice.”
Aradhna, Kuben and their son emigrated to New Zealand 15 years ago. “With no family in New Zealand, and with the COVID restrictions, we could have felt so alone,” says Aradhna. “It was such a relief to have people I could call at any time. At night and weekends when you can’t call the GP’s office, Tōtara Hospice was there.”
When it came time to plan for end-of-life care, once again Tōtara Hospice provided practical knowledge and emotional support. The Hospice counsellor talked through options with Aradhna and then they discussed Kuben’s wishes as a family. The counsellor prompted them to talk about funeral planning, cremation and where Kuben would be in his last days. This let Aradhna know exactly what he wanted and made those decisions that little bit easier.
Kuben decided to be in Tōtara Hospice for his final days.
Aradhna remembers, “We were treated with so much dignity, respect and compassion. I could not think of a better place for us to be in that week. Everyone there talked to us like we were old friends and there were so many little things they did that showed empathy. We were constantly checked on but also felt like we were given space and could care for Kuben in the way we wanted to.”
Those days were understandably hard on their teenage son and having the Hospice counsellor there to sit and speak with him gave Sahil support and also allowed Aradhna some time to process and grieve.
In his final days, Kuben’s pain was managed and it was the most serene, calm, and respectful time. “On Kuben’s last night the nurse sat with me. She talked me through each stage and what to expect and, it made those final hours a little less overwhelming.”
Once Kuben passed, Tōtara Hospice continued to provide the family with support and guidance.
Tōtara Hospice offers grief counselling for loved ones. Aradhna found this to be a huge support and it helped her through the festive season that was soon after Kuben’s passing. “The availability of counselling through Hospice has let me talk things out and work through grief. It has taught me that it’s ok to ask for help and that there is no time limit on grief.”
Seven months after Kuben’s passing, Aradhna’s Hospice counselor, Cari, invited her to join a grief group. The group initially met with Cari who helped them to talk and process, and they now continue to keep in contact and support each other in their daily lives. “I’m grateful to Cari, who brought all of us together and matched us so well. We all come from different walks of life but have a similar outlook in the way we see life and death. It is heartening to connect with people who have been through it, there is a shared understanding.”
As Kuben’s one year anniversary approached, Aradhna wanted this time to count for something. She decided to raise money for Hospice to support others on the same journey. “I talked to Hospice about raising money and what goal to set. I couldn’t believe having someone in a bed at Hospice costs them $1,500 a night, yet we pay nothing for it.”
Aradhna raised an incredible $3,905 for Tōtara Hospice, in honour of Kuben.
Aradhna says, “Hospice has carried us for well over a year. The holistic nature of the care meant we were supported in so many ways. The team was behind us, supporting us, talking us through the process. We were never alone.”