Margaret has worked for The Warehouse for 18 years, for the past 6 years at the Glenfield store.When Kevin Balding, the Store Manager, suggested that they get involved with the 2012 Coastal Challenge to help raise funds for Hospice North Shore Margaret jumped at the chance – and for Margaret her motivation is very personal. Her daughter, Belinda died in 2008 after a hard fought battle with cancer, aged 28.
“Belinda was the third of my four children and she was just an amazing young women, who always looked at the positives and never had a bad word to say about anything. She was just a wonderful person, who was taken far too soon.” said Margaret.
At the age of 26 Belinda was diagnosed with a lung infection, but when it didn’t clear she was taken forx-rays which showed she had Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Margaret said, “All I wanted to do was cry when I received the news that my beautiful baby girl had cancer. But I had to be brave and be upbeat for her – there was to be no crying.
“Her initial treatment was mild chemotherapy, after which she had to be flown to Melbourne for x-rays, which showed that the chemotherapy had not worked.” Belinda went through a higher dose of chemotherapy. “Even with everything that was going on she was upbeat. We received a text from her to say that she had shaved off all her hair so now looked like her big brother. She was just so brave.”
Then came the news they had all been dreading. Belinda was given only a few months. But in true Belinda style, she didn’t let it get her down. She and her husband took a ‘tiki tour’ around the South Island.
While away she was taking an oral chemotherapy treatment and she went into remission. While in remission she went through another round of treatment. This time it was a bone marrow stem cell transplant. “We were all so relieved, she seemed perfectly fine… for a while. When we went for her final tests, I remember her telling me that she had never felt better. But it wasn’t to be, the cancer was still there and it had moved to her spleen.” This was a battle she just couldn’t win. “I didn’t know how to cope, it was so overwhelming. But the team at work were absolutely amazing – they were so supportive and helped me find the strength I needed.
“When more treatments were offered, Belinda studied them all, working out which ones she felt would offer her the best chance of beating this. She was so determined that she would win. She didn’t dwell on her illness, in fact she continued working right through. She worked part time as a florist and went out
2 months before she died and found another job! She attended her brother’s wedding with her arm wrapped in a bandage – nothing was going to stop her missing this special day.”
Then they took another trip around the South Island, this time with her Mum and Dad. “We had such a great time, there was so much laughter and a lot of fun – I have wonderful memories of that trip with Belinda.
“The last day the whole family spent together was something very special. Belinda’s instructions were to ‘leave all your tears at the door’. We spent the day talking about everything, our memories, the good old days – it was just a very special day.
“While I had heard about Hospice, I really had not had any experience personally. But that was about to change. It was so reassuring to know that we weren’t going through this on our own. We knew that Hospice would be there every step of the way – for absolutely anything, at any time of the day or night. Belinda looked forward to going to Hospice for her massages. Something so simple, made such a difference. They knew how to relieve the soreness in her body and it also washed away some of her tiredness. She always felt so much better after her massage.
“I visit Belinda at her resting place when I can. On her birthday and her anniversary the family release balloons for her.
“So on 25th February, I will be running the 22km event of the Coastal Challenge to raise funds for an amazing organisation.”
If that wasn’t motivation enough, Store Manager Kevin explains that a number of Margaret’s workmates will also be involved in the Coastal Challenge “because last year we also lost a very special member of staff who had been with The Warehouse for 15 years. He wasn’t feeling well, went to the doctors and was given just weeks to live. That stunned us all. His local Hospice helped him and his family so much, we just want to show our thanks for the wonderful work that they do in our community.”