Our Impact Darlene’s Story

By Darlene Di Bianco

One Saturday, our son Matthew (above) went to work and we got a phone call that he’d admitted himself to Monash in Clayton.

He just wasn’t feeling very well. So, we went down there and it took them a couple of days to make a diagnosis but I think they knew pretty much straight away that something wasn’t right.

They called us in for a meeting on the Monday and told us he had cancer. It was oesophageal cancer. He was only 22 years old so I found that hard to comprehend. They did a few more tests and found it had already spread to his liver and he was at the final stages. Matthew being only 22, I think it stumped everyone. The doctors weren’t sure how this had happened and why and there’s no history or anything in the family.

A month or so later, one of your nurses contacted me and she took me through the process and what we were likely to experience in the months ahead and PCSE started supporting us from there.

When they first contacted me, I cried because I was like palliative care! Does that mean that’s it. he’s gone?

It was during COVID so we knew we wanted him to be at home but I didn’t really know what palliative care was all about. I knew it was end of life support but I didn’t realise all the services that came along with it and the support that everyone would provide and that would really get us through what we had to deal with.

I was scared at the start but then when I realised what was involved and that PCSE was just there to support us along the journey then it was a little bit easier to understand.

We got counselling and help with various forms that had to be filled out and the nurse encouraged us to speak to Matthew about what his wishes were.

We wouldn’t have known what to do without PCSE. Obviously, you have the oncologists and the doctors and things like that but they don’t really put things into place for you but the support we had from palliative care was amazing and any question I had, I would pick up the phone and ring and they would be able to answer it.

Any time I needed to ask anything, they helped me out. I’ve always said that I couldn’t have done it without them and that’s the honest truth.

Matthew was gone within three months.

We were so grateful for PCSE’s support that last year when COVID restrictions relaxed we held a fundraising event and collected donations to support their work. It was also a way to honour Matthew and we raised almost $1500.

I’d just like to say thanks for helping and thank you for being that person and that shoulder that I could cry on because you understood what was going on.

Help us continue providing home-based palliative care to people like Matthew and supporting their families by making a tax-deductible donation today.

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