Our Stories

Our journey when my wife Helen was told that she would only have 4-6 weeks to live 
By Sandy Anderson

When Helen was given this prognosis in late 2023, by her Haematologist, our first thoughts were that we both wanted her to be able to die at home.

We knew that we would need the help of a palliative care service and we were pleased to get a prompt call from Ballarat Hospice Care after the Haematologist made a referral. 

Helen and I had been in a relationship for 31 years and over that time had experienced some mixed responses to our sexuality, some of whom were not positive, by health services.

When I opened the door to the Hospice nurse, I immediately noticed that she was wearing a inclusive LGBTIQ+ lanyard. The intake process was respectful and the nurse didn’t make any assumptions about our relationship and family that would have made us uncomfortable.

Over the five weeks that Helen was dying every staff member from Hospice equally treated us with respect and helped us negotiate the difficult journey for Helen and I, our children and grandchildren.

One of the benefits of knowing you are going to die meant that Helen could make her wishes known in the planning for her funeral. It was December 23rd when Helen said that she wanted to have a large rainbow flag draped across her coffin and I had no idea how I could access such a flag over the holiday season. I reached out to Rainbow Ballarat on Facebook and they very kindly and promptly gifted us the perfect rainbow flag.

Helen and I discussed what should happen to the rainbow flag after Helen died and we both thought that is would be good to donate it to Hospice for however it could be used to support another LGBTIQ+ client and their family.

It didn’t surprise me to find out after Helen died that Ballarat Hospice Care had achieved the Rainbow Tick Accreditation and today it was a touching moment for me to present the rainbow flag to the staff of Hospice.

Pictured from left to right:  Supportive Care Advisor Claire with Sandy
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