IT’S amazing the things you remember from your childhood, Murray Silver tells me as he sits in his Warrnambool home.
“My last name is Silver and I remember where I lived when I was four-years-old there was a silver dollar tree,” Mr Silver said.
“It’s a strong memory,” he said.
He gives the woman to his left a knowing glance.
She knows exactly what he is referring to.
The woman is South West Healthcare palliative care volunteer Helen Goss.
The bond between the two is obvious and one that has developed over the past couple of months.
Mrs Goss has been visiting Mr Silver each week to help write his autobiography.
Time has been of the essence for Mr Silver, who was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma brain tumour in April last year.
“I had a series of headaches and that led to getting a scan and an emergency operation,” Mr Silver said.
His wife of nearly 25 years – Michelle – said an MRI showed an agressive brain tumour.
Mr Silver was rushed to St Vincent’s hospital in Melbourne, where doctors removed as much of the tumour tissue as they could.
“It’s a grade four and it’s one of the fastest growing tumours you can have,” Mrs Silver said.
“He had the operation and about four weeks later he got a staph infection and he had to go back to the hospital.”
Mrs Silver said a round of chemotherapy and radiation was unsuccessful.
“They can’t stop it – that was just to slow it down so they put him on another drug but that didn’t work either so it’s just managing it now,” she said.
The couple has been extremely grateful for the well wishes and support community members have given them, in particular friends from King’s College.
“The community has been great,” Mrs Silver said.
These days Mr Silver likes to keep busy and one thing that has brought great joy to him has been writing his autobiography.
“I’ve been very fortunate that up to this stage it hasn’t been a rapid decline in health so I’ve been able to cast my mind back,” he said.
The “mild mannered, soft spoken and patient” woman who has helped him do that is Mrs Goss.
She is a volunteer for South West Healthcare’s My Life, My Memories initiative.
“I’ve been involved with palliative care for a number of years,” Mrs Goss said.
“I started in Mildura in the early `90s and then we moved down to Warrnambool.
“At the start I did one on ones with clients in the home but when the biography initiative started I thought that would be a lovely thing to be able to do and very rewarding.”
Mrs Goss was invited into Mr Silver’s home to help him put pen to paper and write his autobiography.
“I find it very rewarding and I meet beautiful people along the way,” she said.
Her visits to the Silver home were something that she – and Mr Silver – looked forward to.
“I come out once a week and we have a few chats, a few laughs and a few tears,” she said.
“It’s an absolute privilege to share somebody’s life story and their accomplishments.”
Mrs Goss enjoyed their weekly catch-ups.
“We had a lot of laughs along the way,” she said.
“Murray’s a very warm, caring person.”
Mr Silver told Mrs Goss about growing up in New Zealand, joining the Air Force and meeting the love of his life.
He also told her about his passion for Rugby Union.
“I loved my rugby, but I got distracted,” he said, referring to meeting his beautiful wife.
The couple moved to Australia and Mr Silver went on to work at the RAAF base at Wagga before turning his focus to teaching.
His plan to teach at King’s College was indefinitely put on hold after his diagnosis last year.
Mrs Silver said she believed writing his autobiography had been therapeutic for her husband.
“I just keep setting goals,” he said of his outlook for the future.
One of those is attending his mother’s 70th in New Zealand in a few short months.
He also likes to chop firewood and is forever grateful for the strong bond he has formed with Mrs Goss.
“She is like my aunty,” he said.
“She brings out the best in people and I’m so comfortable with her.
“You end up revealing more and more because you feel quite comfortable.”
Mr Silver said most days he feels quite well. “Sometimes I feel a little bit tired.”
Mrs Silver is pleased he has shared stories that his daughters Ariana, 16, Amai, 11, and Aloeet, 10, can cherish in years to come.
As part of the My Life, My Memories initiative, South West Healthcare volunteers meet with, listen to and help patients write an autobiography.
In the past two years Mrs Goss has been helped half a dozen patients write their story as part of the program.
She said it was a great privilege.
“I would come out and tape the stories with a recorder and then I go home and I write it up on the computer,” Mrs Goss said.
“I send it to Murray and then I take it back the next week and we go through it together.
“It’s not my story – it’s the client’s story, I’m just the facilitator.”
It’s obvious Mrs Goss and Mr Silver now share an unbreakable bond.
Mr Silver said he was pleased he had written his autobiography and hopes to deliver a number of copies to his family in New Zealand later this year.
For details about the initiative call Andrea on 0417 033 150.