For corporate lawyer, university student, mum of two, and volunteer, Sarah Mellowes she saw how important it was to document the lives of palliative care clients for them and their families.
As part of HammondCare’s Life Stories program, Sarah has written three biographies so far for a range of clients including 47-year-old Sandra Campbell who is receiving palliative care after a pancreatic stage 4 cancer diagnosis.
Sarah, who lives in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, documented Sandra’s story in a series of recorded interviews which she then turned into a 35,000-word biography for Sandra and her two children, Allegra and Xavier.
For Sarah, a lover of writing, balancing her professional life with volunteering is crucial in order to give back to the community and prevent loneliness in aged care clients.
Having no grandparents residing in Australia, Sarah found that interviewing palliative care clients and immortalising their stories created a strong sense of fulfilment for all involved.
“Where I get the fulfilment and the joy from is their faces when they talk about a beautiful memory in their life or even just talking about their favourite food – for me, that’s why you do it and I think that they get a lot out of it as well,” she said.
“You’re not a family member or somebody they know. They can unload a lot of different stories and bounce things off you that they might not share with other people.
Sarah found the biography program after being inspired by the ABC TV’s Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds series and joined the 30 volunteers that write about 35 biographies a year for palliative care patients.
Sarah found time to write the biographies during a break from practising corporate law while she finishes her Master of Laws at the University of Sydney and she recommends anyone with a passion for writing or listening to stories to consider getting involved.