It's Hospice Awareness Week and the gap between the perception and reality of Hospice Whanganui needs to be closed.
Fundraising, marketing and communications manager for Hospice Whanganui, Kelly Scarrow, says it's a place for all people, regardless of age or ethnicity. All sorts of people access the services of Hospice.
"There are so many of our clients from a multitude of backgrounds," she says.
Bridget is an artist, she's 33, wife of Brandon and mother of 7-month-old Mohi. Life should be amazing, and in many ways it is.
"When I was in high school in New Plymouth I volunteered for Hospice in reception for a couple of months," says Bridget.
Even then, she found she knew so little about the organisation. "But now, just knowing they're there for anything …"
In August last year, Bridget was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She was seven months pregnant with Mohi.
"We had just come back from Tokyo: we were living there for three years."
Bridget worked in Tokyo as a kindergarten teacher. She had been experiencing some pain and was diagnosed on their return to New Plymouth. She says she had a mammogram before leaving for Japan and it was all clear.
"I was in hospital for two weeks because I was having difficulty walking. They were taking care of me while we were waiting for the results, then started chemo while I was in hospital."
Because she was pregnant the doctors wanted to see how she'd respond to treatment.
Bridget's oncologist is in Palmerston North. "He's amazing! He came to New Plymouth to talk us through everything."
Brandon is from Whanganui and the couple lived here for seven years, where Bridget studied Fine Arts, graduating in 2010. While in Whanganui they ran a music venue and gallery called the Arc Theatre, in Drews Ave. Bridget also worked at Gonville Library with Kelly.
They then spent five years in Wellington where Bridget worked as a banking adviser, before going to Japan.
"You're an artist, so you're a lot of other things as well," she says.
Now they live in Whanganui, not far from Bridget's oncologist, and close enough to Wellington where Brandon plies his trade as a musician.
Against the odds, Mohi was born naturally and he is a healthy little boy. He was three weeks old when Bridget began radiation therapy.
"When I was in New Plymouth, Hospice was there every day and was a huge part of my life for months."
Since giving birth, Bridget feels a lot better. "It's made it easier for my body."
Hospice Whanganui provides her with pastoral care, with a volunteer, Nelda, visiting her at home.
"She's like my download. I talk to her about everything and she helps me through life," says Bridget.
Nelda is part of the pastoral care team, part of the wraparound service for patients and families.
"We have a lot of hope and positivity," says Bridget. "When we were at the hospital for two weeks, every day we would write a gratitude journal, with all the things we were grateful for that day. There are always good things that happen. We want to focus on that.
"On paper it sounds really bad, but, in our minds, we actually have a good life and we're happy. I got to be a mum: not everyone has that."
The reality is that Bridget and Brandon have Hospice Whanganui as a part of their lives.
"The big thing for me is having them come to my house," says Bridget.
On their arrival in Whanganui, Hospice came and did a medical review so they knew what help Bridget needed.
"We had a lady help Brandon, as well, because Brandon is my fulltime carer."
Hospice provides support for Brandon in dealing with agencies, for example. Before this, Brandon's view of Hospice hardly reached beyond the provision of palliative care, not the range of services Hospice actually offers.
"I'll have Hospice in my life for the rest of my life," says Bridget. "I know if I have a bad spell, they would become a huge part of my daily routine again.
"Hospice is not just palliative care and it's not just for people about to die, because I'm 33 and I'm nowhere near dead. But they're there."
Bridget has responded well to treatment, with her cancer markers dropping lower with every dose of chemotherapy and radiation.
Her art continues and she recently held an exhibition in Patea. She has also been knitting "a lot".
"It's productive and it takes your mind off things."