When Passion Runs Through your Genes

For this week we continue our #HospiceVisits in the Western Cape, travelling at least 114km along a scenic route to Overstrand Hospice, exploring the amazing people behind the scenes and the work they do. Today we catch up with professional nurse, Sr Annetjie Squires.

Annetjie grew up in Namibia. Her father was a GP and her mother a nurse and it was evitable that she wanted to follow in their footsteps. To pursue her career, Annetjie studied and completed her BA nursing over 4 years at the Stellenbosch University in Cape Town and later did her training at Karl Bremar Hospital.

After having 4 children,she decided to take a break and continued nursing on a more temporary basis locally. At this stage her children started getting older and when her youngest child was in high school, she decided to become a midwife but had to study 1 extra year as this was not included in her BA nursing module at the time.

What are the chances of all 4 children following the same career paths? Her eldest son decided to study to become a GP and her daughter, a nurse. Annetjie jokes about the fact that she would see her children each day at “work” as all 3 of them ended up doing their practical at Tygerberg Hospital. Fortunately the second youngest decided to follow a different career path by studying HR but yet her youngest daughter too decided to study nursing in Germany.

“Being a midwife was always a passion of mine and I enjoyed catching babies for years until I needed to retire” she added. At the age of 65, Annetjie thought that her lifestyle would slow down but this soon would change.Overstrand Hospice at the time was in need of a nurse and in 2014, Annetjie joined them, thinking that it would be for a short time to relieve staff but today she is still very much involved and loves what she does.

With her years of experience delivering babies, she explains that there is not much difference in controlling pain in a hospice setting. Part of being a midwife requires you to control the labour pain a mother faces at the time and in a hospice setting it is more or less the same. “If you can relieve pain- you can give quality to life “she added. It is amazing for patients to know that someone is with them every step of the way when they are experiencing pain and that you will try your utmost to relieve some of it. I am passionate about controlling pain!

Each morning for Annetjie starts with a cup of coffee with staff members discussing new referral patients and progress of existing ones. It is also an opportunity to deal and advice on some challenging cases one experiences. She explains that just recently a patient’s daughter came running out as she pulled up to visit. This young girl was in tears and devastated that the doctor told them that the patient will probably spend their last Christmas with them as her condition (lung cancer) is becoming worse. “It is important at times to prepare the patient and family for death but also assuring them that you will be there for them every step of the way “she added.

With no carers in the field, we rely on our companions who live in the community to care for our 75 patients. With the necessary training we provide them, they have become valuable assets to our organisation which we are really grateful for.

To learn more about Overstrand Hospice, click here