"You'll always feel sad times, but the happy memories will never leave you. Make sure you always tell people you love them when you're saying goodbye or goodnight."
This is the heartfelt message of 11-year-old Tauranga girl Myesha Wilson to other families who have lost a loved one through cancer. Myesha has designed a Christmas bauble in memory of her beloved mother Kat, to raise money for Hospice in Aotearoa.
Myesha will not be seeing her mum at Christmas — the 11-year-old's mother Kat tragically died of cancer two years ago. But Kat will still be with not only her own daughter, but will be touching the lives of thousands of Kiwis, with a specially designed Christmas bauble decorated with a heart.
"My Kiwi Christmas is a heart because it's not about presents, it is about spending time with your family," said Myesha.
It was at an art workshop at Waipuna Hospice, where Kat spent the last weeks of her life with her family by her side, where Myesha created the design which was selected as the hero design for 15,000 Christmas baubles that will be sold nationwide in Farmers stores.
Myesha and her older brother Riley became involved with play therapy services at hospice during their mum's illness. Their father Craig credits hospice with getting the family through such a difficult time.
"Kat was just 44 when she passed. She had Nodular Melanoma. It began as a 'nasty' on
her shoulder blade back in 2010, which was cut out and she was monitored three-monthly. Near the end of 2014, it suddenly was found to have metastasized into tumours in her body and she was given about a year to live. She lasted 18 months."
He says hospice helped the painful experience be less so for all the family.
"They were there in all sorts of ways. Kat had a couple of stays in Hospice to give her times of good rest and to adjust pain management medication. This was also a good time for family to have rest as well.
"The kids went to Play Therapy sessions each week for several months leading up to their mum's passing, and then for several months afterwards too. This really helped them to go through the process and understand their feelings and emotions. Hospice is there for the patient, the families and even the wider circle of friends if people feel they need the help."
Children at the art workshop were asked to draw what a Kiwi Christmas meant to them.
Many drew Christmas trees, decorations and presents. Amongst the drawings, Myesha Wilson, who was then 9 years old, stood out for her picture of a heart. It was her mum and family who inspired the design, says Myesha, who remember special Christmases with her mum as being full of fun. "Lots of fun and laughter, being together with the family. Mum always just made it really special."
Myesha and her family are proud to remember their mother and help raise funds during Hospice's largest annual fundraising campaign with Farmers. One hundred per cent of the $10 purchase price of the Farmers Christmas Bauble is donated to each store's closest
Myesha sympathises with other children going through similar experiences, and has a special message for all families.
Alongside these specially designed baubles, each Farmers store will have a Tree of Remembrance. Everyone who donates to this campaign will receive a remembrance card to write a message to place on the remembrance tree in store. This is an opportunity to remember someone special in the lead up to Christmas and support the local Hospice services to remain free.
Myesha, Riley and their dad Craig still maintain a close connection with Waipuna, working with the counselling and family support team. This ongoing support is a common part of Hospice services as care for family and whānau both before and after the death of their loved one is an important focus. Hospices aim to help people make the most of their lives; to live every moment in whatever way is important to them.
Myesha hopes people will support hospice by buying her baubles.
"Hospice doesn't get government funding, but it costs such a lot of money to provide the wonderful services they give. Buying the baubles means that the money can help other families who need Hospice's services into the future."
Everything Hospice provides to people like Myesha and her family is free of charge. The majority of funding comes from the Government but more than $45 million is required to meet the annual shortfall. Hospice supports people of all ages living with a life limiting condition — eg. heart failure, motor neurone disease, MS or cancer. The whole person approach of Hospice means physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs are equally important.
FARMERS CHRISTMAS TREE BAUBLES
On sale exclusively at Farmers, with 100 per cent of the purchase price going to local Hospices throughout New Zealand.