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EOL doula stories

6 November 2021

Why did I choose to become an end of life doula? 

Name: Karyn Steele
Business: Take Time To Prepare
Website: www.taketimetoprepare.com.au
Location: Sunshine Coast, QLD

Topics: Death, EOL doula, Motivation, Courage

Why did I choose to become an end of life doula?

In 2014 my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma which came as a shock and at the time we had so many questions. How wasn’t this picked up earlier? Why? Is there treatment? Having to get his Will and Health directive set up right away. What can I do? Will I cope? How do we tell others and keep them up to date and when do we share information?

My husband’s journey was very quick. He was given 12mths and died 10mths later. However, I have to say we ran with life as fast as we could. Perhaps running from the melanoma, travelling to India, Thailand and New Zealand seeing family and friends. Making final memories and most importantly to my husband being seen as he wanted to be remembered not as a sick man.

He was fortunate enough to be offered Keytruda on trial at RBWH which was successful for a short time, however it couldn’t take full control as the melanoma was too far gone and he had 15 tumours on the brain and the melanoma was in his spinal fluid.

During this time, I focused on making his life as normal as possible. Asking how I could fill any final wishes. This is where he told me he had never done karaoke and also wanted to die at home. So I arranged a party where he got to karaoke and with the help of Blue Nurses asked how I could support him to be at home.

It was a testing time, though also fulfilling, bathing, feeding and administering his medication as required. Watching changes daily from dementia, to no appetite, getting thinner and weaker while I lay by his side sometimes in silence other times talking about our holidays and reminiscing.

Through this time, I thought to myself I want to help others and support them to have loved ones die at home. Allow people to remain partners, parents, siblings and not be carers, have those difficult conversations about death and dying. The importance of having a Will, Advance Health care directive, difference of a Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Attorney and something dear to my heart sharing that you don’t have to phone and have the body taken away immediately but you can spend time at home saying good bye, talking to them, bathing them and allowing yourself to grieve. I will also take pride in having public gatherings Dying for a beverage to normalise death and dying where people can ask questions and share their experiences.

Since the death of my husband, I have trained as an End of Life Doula and an AIN so I can help others to accept dying and death are a part of life for all humans and pets.

Name: Karyn Steele
Business: Take Time To Prepare
Website: www.taketimetoprepare.com.au
Location: Sunshine Coast, QLD