Unsung Heroes – At Home an Abroad


Unsung Heroin∼ Janice Ferguson

While visiting with my son Andrew in Australia I met his Mother-in-Law Janice Ferguson who spent almost 17 years as a volunteer in Australia.

Currently Janice is retired from volunteering work. She lives in a small retirement community in a city called Woy Woy an Aboriginal name which translates to Deep Water in English.

Janice a mother of 6 children became involved with volunteering after her oldest daughter Carol died from cancer. During the last year of Carols life Janice was with her every day at the local hospital. Janice was so moved by the palliative care provided to Carol during the cancer treatments that she decided to pursue volunteering as a palliative caregiver for cancer patients.

Lacking experience in caring for patients, Janice turned to the Nuns at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney for an interview to determine how she could become involved with Palliative care.  After completing a 3 week training course at the hospital she became a palliative caregiver at Dementia Cottage, part of the Ministry of Health.

This centre located in Urbina, a suburb of Woy Woy, is a day care centre dedicated to Adult cancer patients. Some of Janice’s responsibilities as a caregiver included:

  • quoteTransporting patients to the Centre
  • Arrange games, BBQs, outings
  • Change the patients clothes
  • Help clients with their food and drinks
  • Providing hand and foot massages to clients
  • Providing comfort to both patients and their families

Every Christmas Janice and her remaining co-workers get together to reminisce, while enjoying each other’s company. I asked Janice why she volunteered her time and effort and she had a familiar response, “She wanted to give something back to the community.”

During our conversation tears came to Janice’s eyes when she was remembering some of her patients and their families which she became involved with during her career as a caregiver. Surely that is a sign of a person dedicated to the welfare of others.

Unfortunately a corporation now operates the Hospice which has resulted in diminished compassion and tenderness for the patients.