Hospice Taranaki has launched its annual tele-marketing campaign - and former pro cyclist Doug Herbert explains to Helen Harvey why he is one of its biggest supporters.
Doug Herbert used to win battles on the road.
As a professional cyclist he competed in endurance races that would take all day.
There were no hi-tech outfits - Mr Herbert won eight New Zealand titles wearing knitted woollen jerseys.
"When it rained they hung down below the seat. They were terrible things."
And unlike today's cycling, there were no feed stations. A pocketful of oranges and a bottle of drink would have to last the whole ride.
These days Mr Herbert, 77, is fighting a battle of a different kind.
More than four years ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It has now spread to his bones and he has trouble getting around.
The radiotherapy has been successful and the medication is working, he said.
"The biggest problem to me is losing my independence. I have to have [wife] Lorraine and people help me to move around."
Last year an ultrasound found a growth on his spine.
"That was an amazing experience because they said ‘you'd better come in straight away because if it pushes against the spinal cord you'll be paralysed for life'. They flew me to Palmerston in the air ambulance. I had nine days there for that one."
The range of medical facilities that are available has surprised him, he said.
"For years and years I didn't even have a doctor. ‘Who's your doctor?' Don't know, don't need one. Then all of a sudden you need all of the help in the world."
And Taranaki Hospice is one facility that he ranks highly.
"I've got so much time for the hospice. They are marvellous."
He doesn't know what he'd have done without them.
"At present I have ulcers on my leg so they visit me."
He has had a few "stays" at the hospice and the accommodation is five-star plus, with great meals.
Hospice Taranaki hopes Mr Herbert's sentiments will resonate with the community as its annual tele-marketing campaign begins.
Over the next year it needs to raise $1.7 million from the Taranaki community to meet the shortfall after Taranaki DHB funding.
There are 156 patients in hospice care across Taranaki and in the past 12 months community nursing teams have paid more than 7000 home visits to patients.
Operational costs including transport and wages have gone up, and community fundraising remains crucial, chief executive Kevin Nielsen said. "The campaign will run for six weeks and we hope to raise $90,000 as it has done in previous years."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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