Anyone who has met Mobility Centre (previously Life Unlimited) Store manager M-J Bloem will know she’s seldom lost for words.
But when regular customer Aileen Mudford stopped by the Gisborne Mobility Centre Store and handed M-J a letter, she was left speechless.
Aileen, 71, who has terminal cancer, was determined M-J knew about the difference she has made in her life since she started visiting the store last year.
Back then, Aileen explained in her letter, she was “in so much distress” as she struggled with continence following a serious back injury and the diagnosis that her bowel cancer, which had been in remission, had metastasised into her liver and other parts of her body.
Someone recommended Aileen try the Mobility Centre Store.
“I walked into our most beautifully laid-out shop and I was feeling rather nervous.”
There she found “a most cheerful and lovely lady behind her desk”.
“She was most understanding, and I soon became very relaxed. She certainly went that extra mile to get the continence products to my home if I was unable to make the trip,” Aileen said.
“The products (Advance) I receive are just so perfect for my everyday life and as always it is a pleasure to visit Mobility Centre Gisborne.
“Your worries are all over once you go into that shop.”
The thank-you letter from Aileen took M-J by surprise.
“I was in tears because she was so lovely,” says M-J.
In her role as an equipment and disability information consultant, it’s not unusual for M-J to meet people when they’re feeling at their lowest. They may be recovering from surgery or recently diagnosed with a condition. Or they might have experienced an unexpected decline in mobility.
“Everyone’s journey is different when they’re managing a disability or condition. My goal is always to support people to find what they need to remain as independent as possible.
“I was so touched that Aileen took the time and effort to acknowledge the work I do – even as she battles cancer,” says M-J.
“Her letter was just such a kind and thoughtful gift.”
Aileen was born and brought up in Gisborne but moved away for several years working at various jobs and looking after the elderly was something she was passionate about.
She had been working nine years at the Bupa Kauri Coast Care Home in Dargaville when in August 2013 she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Her family bought Aileen a little house next to their one in Gisborne, and she returned home.
Thinking she had beaten cancer, she threw herself back into the community joining the local Cancer Society and volunteering. Then in 2016, she received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal. She has had 46 rounds of chemotherapy since.
Aileen is living day-to-day – she wants to return to visit family in Australia in June. Travelling and getting out and about has been made so much easier for her because of the products available at Mobility Centre Store.
“MJ is just amazing, it’s not embarrassing – she makes it so much easier for me,” says Aileen.