Case study: Abigail
Thu Dec. 17th 2015
A twist of fate
Abigail and her husband led a full, happy life until terminal cancer brought it to an abrupt end.
Originally from Scotland, Abigail met Peter in South Africa when she was 18. Five years later they were married. In 1997 they came to New Zealand with their two children.
During what should have been a time to dial back the work stress and dial up the good life, the family got some bad news
"Last year in April, 2014, we decided to give my mum a surprise birthday party for her 83rd birthday. That was the night Peter said to me, 'Abigail I don't feel very well'."
A guiding hand
Within a matter of weeks Peter was diagnosed with terminal cancer with a very poor prognosis. It was a big shock for the family and they tried everything to help Peter. Abigail says that one of their lifelines was Fidelity Life and especially Michael Cave, who, Abigail says, was 'just an angel' throughout the whole process.
"I used to get on to Peter over all the years about blinkin' life insurance. I would say to him why are we spending all this money? It's ridiculous. You know? And we'll only get it if somebody dies and when we've gone what does it matter? It's not important."
But Peter's diagnosis changed her opinion. Even if it's a small amount, she says she's realised the great importance of it.
"I was very grateful for that, and I was especially grateful for Michael. His presence had a calming effect on us as a family, and he helped us to really understand where we were at and the support we would get."
Pillar of strength
Abigail found it a great comfort to have an advisor who understood the family's situation. It created a bond of trust that Abigail found invaluable.
"Michael was so patient with all our questions, he always had the answers and he never rushed us on anything. And he kept reassuring us that everything would be OK. He did everything, I had no contact with anyone else whatsoever."
Dealing with a terminal illness is no mean feat and emotions were always running high. Passed illnesses hadn't been connected to cancer, so mixed in with grief was disappointment and anger that the diagnosis came so late. The family also disagreed over Peter's treatment.
"But every time Michael stepped into the house he brought with him and peace and calmness that I…I just can't explain it to you but it was so tangible, his presence. And that was fantastic."
Taking care of the details
There was quite a lot of paper work that had to be dealt with, but clearly Peter and Abigail had more important things to focus on. Michael asked if he could come around and meet with them to sort things out and guide them through the process. Abigail says he became a regular visitor and fantastic support to the family, stopping by to pick up documents, and offer his support.
"He constantly made us feel that we would be ok whatever the outcome was going to be."
One of the difficulties Abigail faced was that in NZ the support for terminal illness patients with no income is minimal.
"You don't realise it until it hits you and knocks your feet from under you. Especially when you've got a mortgage and family. Peter had to stop working a few weeks after his diagnosis. Our son stopped working to take care of Peter and our daughter came home to be with us too."
Abigail says that Michael and his team were fantastic and really came through for them, working hard with Peter to get everything sorted within a few months.
"He basically put our needs before anything else. I wouldn't have managed without him. Even afterwards he supported me with the process. All the stuff you don't think about like joint bank accounts and hire purchases. It really is more than a person should have to bear. But Michael was just an angel, he was there."
Thank goodness for insurance
Abigail says they had always had life, trauma and income cover; Peter had insisted on it, something for which Abigail is now grateful for. She says just knowing that the financial side of things was taken care of lifts such a burden.
"Without money, without insurance and an income I wouldn't have been able to do anything. And I would have been left with a huge mortgage. Even now I am heart sore, still getting used to being alone. But I am getting there and I could never have got this far without the support and comfort I received from Michael."
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