“You couldn’t possibly get any better treatment. This is like a second home to us. Cabrini is just a part of us now”
Herb and Rose Birchall
It was 1945 – three years before the Cabrini Sisters arrived in Malvern – when Herb and Rose Birchall first laid eyes on each other across a crowded dance hall. They clicked, and began a relationship built on a promise to stick together through thick and thin. From dancing all night, to riding motorbikes halfway across the country, to helping each other through a litany of health issues, they have stayed together.
That was more than 65 years ago, and for nearly half that time, they went to Cabrini whenever either of them needed medical care.
They’d be the first to admit they had some miles on them, but you didn’t dare mention the word ‘frail’. “I ride a bicycle every day, you know,” Herb said back in 2015. “He’s a marvel”, beamed his wife Rose as she sat beside him.
Herb reckoned he’d been admitted to Cabrini more than 20 times in those past 33 years, for everything from kidney stones and open heart surgery, to treatment for prostate cancer and getting a pacemaker implanted. Rose was by his side for every appointment; and waiting just outside during every procedure. And when it was her turn for treatment, for skin cancer and a recurring chest problem, Herb was back here, too, to be with her, sharing the bad times with the good, just like they promised.
“In 2009, Rose had bowel surgery,” Herb recalled. “We spent our 64th wedding anniversary in the ward”. Rose finished his story, “They put on a special dinner for us. It was wonderful. I was so surprised!”
For every medical challenge they faced, Cabrini was, and continued to be, their first choice. They just couldn’t have imagined going anywhere else. “The nurses…well, you couldn’t fault them,” Herb said. “They’re so nice. Everyone is. I just wouldn’t go anywhere else.”
It was not the closest hospital. They lived on the Mornington Peninsula and would drive past several others to get here. It took over an hour by car – a journey in itself when you’re in your 80’s.
Why make that effort? “Because I don’t think there’d be anywhere better,” said Herb. “You couldn’t possibly get any better treatment. This is like a second home to us. Cabrini is just… a part of us now.”
Rose squeezed his hand and nodded. “Cabrini’s part of our lives,” she added. “I think we belong here.”
Sadly, both Herb and Rose passed away within about 18 months of one another. Herb died in March 2018. Rose followed in November 2019.
They had no children and Cabrini was the closest they had to family and a home.
In gratitude for the care they received, they named Cabrini a beneficiary in their Will, which will ensure others in the community will continue to receive the best treatment and care for years to come.
Thank you Herb and Rose. We will miss you.
If you would like to know more about the difference you can make by leaving a gift in your Will to Cabrini, call Natalie Sikora on (03) 9508 1380 or visit www.cabrinifoundation.com.au/giftsinwills