Mission Report – November 17, 2016

November 17, 2016

Last Tuesday the family and friends of Carol Sinclair gathered in our Old Collegians’ Chapel to celebrate her life. Carol was a staff member for eighteen years and worked in many areas, including the tuck-shop, sick bay, The Kelty Resource Centre and Kennedy House. She shared her gifts with great generosity over that time.

Carol’s son Chris offered beautiful words of remembrance that express how, through the gift of a mother’s love, we come to accept the many gifts we have, and so make every day a joy. St Teresa of Calcutta expressed this in these words: -Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.- The mothers of St Patrick’s College are there in the everyday events of life and transform sons, and therefore their lives, into everyday greatness. For some this is recognised at the time, and for others it takes a little longer, with a little bit more maturity on behalf of the son. On Tuesday we shared in the gift of a son who long knew the love of his mother. His words are offered for your prayer and reflection.

For many, if not all of us, it goes without saying-¦

No matter where you are, what you’re doing, who you’re with or where in life you’re at, your mum is and always will be your best friend. There for you through thick and thin, your mum will be by your side for life. They always have your back. They may not always agree with the choices we make or paths we choose, but they support us through everything. We can always rely on our mums to keep cheering us on to the finish line and beyond.

It seems only fitting that we gather here today in the St Patrick’s College chapel, which, in recent times, Mum opened the doors of most mornings. It also fits in well with her Irish heritage, something which she was proud of.

We come together not just to farewell a mum, but also a friend, a work colleague, and – I am sure no one will disagree, an absolute trooper who has undertaken a challenging journey for the past 3 and a bit years.

While any illness which impacts on life so much is a difficult time and full of emotion, the amazing side of it is seeing the courage of one person and the support from many people -“ comprising of family, friends, work colleagues, health care professionals and the community in general, just to name a few.

So, I ask today, on behalf of mum, that while we reflect on her life, we also acknowledge and give thanks to those who supported her throughout her entire life.

During this journey, surgeons and oncologists acted diligently to improve outcomes and quality of life. I can’t begin to imagine the difficulties the medical world is faced with being presented with such a variety of different circumstances in every patient they treat. Their interest, research and care is inspiring.

More recently, Mum was invited to participate in a clinical trial for a new type of medication for cancer. That took courage. Initially, we were both a little anxious, but this subsided over time thanks to the incredible staff. We soon found our little routine of leaving home early (in case of a transport hiccup), and frequenting a quaint café nearby to the clinic.

Mum had to find a bit more courage within though when we found out that part of the trial involved eating a fatty breakfast with the medication. Mum lost a bit of colour after hearing that, whereas my grin only widened. She almost walked away from the idea -“ however, after being assured it was just -one breakfast- and not every day, Mum conceded and gave it a go. To her credit, she did well, and I had leftovers. She was right -“ it was awful.

Aside from those times, Mum was a regular visitor to the -‘Anam Cara Centre’ (Day Oncology) and Ward 1 West at St John of God Hospital in the hands of fantastic staff who work hard caring for numerous patients, but also try to ignite some social interaction between patients and the staff. It was here where mum was introduced to Ovarian Cancer awareness Ballarat -“ a local support and friendship group. Becoming involved and network with others is something which made her glow, and having an outlet, specific to her illness was key to her journey.

As many of you know, mum worked here at St Patrick’s College and has done so for quite some time. If I remember rightly, it started as a gentle shove from one son for her to volunteer in the school canteen.

Nevertheless, the College has become a second family for mum. Throughout her journey, friends at work have rallied behind her, regularly checking on her and offering assistance in whatever way possible. She enjoyed coming to work, keeping busy and being a part of it all. She loved being included.

Mum spent her final days at Gandarra Palliative care unit. For someone who had come so far, and was tired and worn, I have every confidence that mum was again in the very best of care. It might seem unfortunate or upsetting that at some stage, we all may know of someone who will enter Gandarra, but the environment and incredible staff here is an amazing experience to be seen. For us, it felt like a quiet, caring sanctuary.

There are so many people who have touched Mum’s life, particularly during her journey, and there are without doubt many others who I have not specifically mentioned today, but, to all of you, I say Thank You.