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Anthony’s story – Leaving a legacy on behalf of his family for the lifetime of care they received

By March 22, 2024No Comments

Throughout their lives, all the members of Anthony’s family have experienced the warmth and kindness of the staff from Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) and Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital (HKH).

Now as the last surviving family member, Anthony saw the opportunity to leave a legacy behind, not only for himself but also for his family, where an entire community and future generations will benefit from lifechanging care.

From having his tonsils removed at RNSH when he was a boy, to being treated for cancer at HKH as an adult, Anthony himself, along with his family, have often felt grateful for the professionalism and care shown by many healthcare staff at both hospitals within the Northern Sydney Local Health District. As Anthony says, “We have always been connected to the hospitals and they have been there for us through good times and harder ones.”

Family photo with Mum and Dad

Anthony grew up with his Mum, Dad and two older brothers Leslie and Philip, in Sydney’s leafy north shore. Two of the boys were born at RNSH and Philip was born in the back of the ambulance on the way to RNSH. At various times throughout their lives, they have all been admitted to RNSH or the local HKH for treatment.

Philip was diagnosed in 2000 with a type of leukaemia known as polycythaemia vera, which causes a high concentration of red blood cells and a risk of blood clots. When Phil had a bypass operation at RNSH in 2001, Anthony remembers the medical staff as being supportive and knowledgeable. Anthony said, “When we visited, the staff took such good care of us all.” In 2003, Phil had a series of strokes and was admitted to HKH for treatment. Anthony became his brother’s full-time carer for nearly six years, during which time Phil endured numerous treatments at both HKH and RNSH.

Phil unfortunately lost his battle in January 2010. It was an extremely difficult time for the family as their Mum also passed away in December of that year. Anthony’s father had passed away in 1974.

In 2016, Anthony was diagnosed with parathyroid cancer. He spent 42 days in HKH over Christmas and in early 2017 had surgery to remove the cancer in the parathyroid glands, which are four pea-sized organs located in the neck. Thankfully Anthony has been in total remission since.

Anthony looks back on his time spent at HKH and says, “It wasn’t easy being in hospital over Christmas that year, but the wonderful staff made me feel at home and took such good care of me during that difficult time.”

In 2021, brother Les was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and over a period of eight months, had numerous treatments as an inpatient and outpatient at HKH and RNSH. While Les had a successful bone marrow transplant, he passed away from complications due to an unrelated infection soon after.

Anthony, “the last of the Mohicans”.

Anthony recalls he was with his brother as he took his last breath. At that moment, he lost the last member of his family and gave himself the moniker ‘the last of the Mohicans’ and guardian of the family name.

After losing Les, Anthony was contacted by Louise, the Intensive Care Unit Bereavement Coordinator to check on his wellbeing, especially considering he was now on his own. Anthony was impressed that staff like Louise and ICU nurse Samantha not only genuinely cared about Les, but him as well. Deeply touched by their compassion, Anthony donated to RNSH through the NORTH Foundation as a sign of his appreciation.

“The reaction to my donation was something I didn’t expect,” said Anthony. “I was thanked so kindly and genuinely by the NORTH Foundation, so when I decided to redo my Will, I made the conscious decision to add RNSH as a beneficiary as I’m sure this would be a perfect representation of my family’s ideals into the future.”

Anthony stipulates he didn’t include RNSH in his Will because he wanted accolades, rather he believes he is doing the right thing for his family. It is also to recognise the role RNSH played throughout their lives.

While Anthony won’t be around to see the impact of his family’s legacy, he believes that it will lead to positive things for future generations and that’s more than he can hope for.

More recently, Anthony had a pleasant experience when he headed back to RNSH to return some borrowed equipment that Les had been using at home. He was delighted that Louise and Samantha welcomed him with open arms.

He said it just showed him that we are not just another number in a huge system, but we are people, and we matter, and words don’t do justice for the appreciation Anthony has for the healthcare staff that supported him and his family when they needed it most.

If you would like to make an enquiry about leaving a legacy in your Will, please contact the NORTH Foundation at [email protected] or on (02) 9436 0162.

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