Client Story: Penny Haringsma

Penny Haringsma was a beautiful wife to her devoted husband Michael and a proud, dedicated and loving mother to her children Zoe and Riley. She beamed with positivity, loved to laugh and valued time with her friends and family above anything. Her ability to embrace hardship with a positive outlook was to be admired, with her determination to live well reflected in the impact she has made on so many people’s lives.

Penny began her journey with PCSE three years ago after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Initially she received nursing care in the home, but after treatments at Monash Health under the care of Dr. Michelle White, her symptoms reduced and she was able to return to many of her favourite activities.

As she recovered our support began to change, transitioning from medical care to monthly visits which provided emotional and psychological support. During this time Penny’s lust for life was as strong as ever, allowing her to get back to the things she loved the most, traveling and spending time with her family.

In 2016 and again in 2018 she travelled around Australia extensively, riding rollercoasters, climbing Katherine Gorge and making it to the top of Kakadu. She didn’t let her illness control her, pushing aside any fear to make wonderful memories with her husband and children. Throughout this time, Penny continued to access support from PCSE.

As well as having the opportunity to travel and explore Penny re-entered the workforce as a ward clerk at St John of God. Her bright and approachable personality was well suited to the role as she loved interacting with everyone who crossed her path.

While Penny focused on living well PCSE continued to provide her with ongoing support. She regularly visited our Early Palliative Care Intervention Clinic (EPIC) to understand and manage her symptoms, embracing our holistic approach to care. In particular, she loved massage therapy and found it a valuable tool to relieve both physical and emotional stress.

Penny’s long-term commitment to our services in combination with her positive outlook ensured she had the highest quality of life possible. Even through the difficult times she held onto her spark as a passionate, warm, thoughtful and fun-loving woman.

As Penny’s condition began to worsen she returned to home care, making the decision to stop progressing with further medical treatment. During this time we ensured she had equipment available to help her from home, as well as regular nursing care and family support.

On the 6th of August 2020, surrounded by her family, Penny died in her place of choice. She is remembered for her strength, resilience and compassion, as well as how happy she was when spending time with family and friends.

Penny’s vibrancy for life, energy and determination to embrace every moment reminds us all to focus on what really matters. She epitomised PCSE’s vision to live well, making every moment of life memorable and full of joy.

We would like to thank Penny’s friends and family for their generous support to our organisation. The outpouring of donations from her community will be used to create a ‘Penny For Your Thoughts’ area in our new premises at 80 Victor Crescent, Narre Warren. The space will honour Penny and reflect her legacy to improve wellness for families living with a life-limiting illness. If you would like to learn more about our services or make a donation in memory of Penny please click here.

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