Health crisis leads Leanne to Volunteer Role - Wishlist Org
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Health crisis leads Leanne to Volunteer Role

3rd August, 2022

Leanne Hepburn has experienced more hard knocks than most in the past two years after losing three loved ones, but she has triumphed above these testing times and become a cherished volunteer at Wishlist.

The 60-year-old spent the previous years as her husband Gary’s primary carer whilst he endured a 10-year battle with prostate cancer.

“In 2021 when we learnt the cancer spread into Gary’s bones and brain, it all knocked us for six knowing he didn’t have long to live. Despite the tragic circumstances, Gary was calm, peaceful and very supported by family and friends,” Ms Hepburn said.

Gary’s spent his final weeks in Caloundra’s Dove Palliative Care. Since 2016, Wishlist has funded music therapy for end-of-life patients in the facility.  

“Dove Palliative Care was amazing. Gary had a beautiful room. It was the music therapy that made the final chapter easier on us all. As a family who live and breathe music, Tracie the Music Therapist created some really happy moments,” she said.

To add to the heartache of Leanne losing her mum and dad in the space of two years, Gary lost his battle with cancer in February last year, aged 70.

“After Gary died, I didn’t know what to do with my life. I had just gone from being his full-time carer to an empty schedule. I used to take my guitar down and perform to the residents in an aged care facility, but that was too sad for me now without my parents around.”

Leanne now volunteers at Wishlist House, greeting guests, and ensuring everyone is as comfortable as possible in the ‘home away from home’, within walking distance of Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH).

“I’ve met some amazing people at Wishlist House. It’s the comradery, the firm friendships, the vibrant environment, and the chance to talk with guests about their journey. Considering what I’ve gone through, I feel I can relate even more.”

“Volunteering at Wishlist gives me a purpose and I feel part of a big community making the hospital experience better for families and patients from rural and local areas.”

Leanne is currently in training to become a volunteer receptionist at Wishlist Centre when it opens opposite SCUH in November.

Wishlist Centre is Australia’s first facility to offer affordable accommodation, primary healthcare and complementary therapies under one roof.

“It’s a very exciting time to be volunteering at Wishlist and without a doubt the best decision I’ve made since Gary died. I’d definitely encourage anyone young or old to become a volunteer at Wishlist.”

Become a Wishlist volunteer and make a real difference to the lives of families and patients experiencing a health crisis. Find out more here.