A special birthday at Stepping Stone Hospice
Jim Murray, an in-patient at Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services for the past four months, and who celebrated his 70th birthday at the unit in October, was finally given the green light to go home to be with his family.
Says Sr Sheryl Newman, clinical services manager at Stepping Stone Hospice; “this is testament to the fact that we can help our patients by bringing the symptoms of their life-limiting illness under control to the extent that they can go home. Mr Murray will now be cared for by two of our care-givers at his home and they will assist and guide family members in the care of their loved one.”
In October this year, surrounded by family and friends at Stepping Stone Hospice, Mr Murray cut his birthday cake, which featured a cameraman perched on the top of a movie reel – a true testament to a life that has certainly been filled with lights, camera and action.
According to his wife, Anne, Jim was not just a gifted guitarist – “his friends used to call him South Africa’s Hank Marvin (lead guitarist for Cliff Richard's backing band, The Shadows),” but he also had a keen interest in getting behind the lens, and it’s his work as a cameraman and filmmaker that he is most proud of. From directing, to producing to editing, to scriptwriting, to composing soundtracks, Jim has worked on more than 65 films and countless other productions, from advertisements to documentaries.
Jim was the recipient of two Artes Awards (South Africa’s equivalent of an Emmy) and two Marang Awards (for his work on Bop TV), amongst other accolades and nominations. As if that’s not enough, Jim has also written three novels that are set to be published.
Somewhere in between all the music and movies, Jim also managed to raise two sons and has five grandchildren. Former residents of Mondeor, and later Meyersdal, Jim and Anne eventually relocated to their eldest son’s game farm in the Limpopo. It was there that Anne was bitten by a violin spider in 2013 and had to be hospitalised in Johannesburg. “Jim wasn’t well when he came up to fetch me to go back to the farm,” says Anne, “so we ran some tests and they revealed that he had prostate cancer. He was put on a treatment programme where he had to undergo chemotherapy every three months. After the second round of treatment, he continued to lose weight, and by the third he had dropped from 115kg to a mere 58kg,” she explains.
Jim was referred to well-known oncologist, dr Sylvia Rodrigues at the Clinton Oncology Centre, where more tests revealed a spread to the lymph glands. Jim spent some time in hospital undergoing more chemo and radiation sessions. His last treatment was in April.
The decision to move to hospice wasn’t an easy one, explains Anne. “Jim was very reluctant at first, but I knew it would be the right place for us. I was struggling to turn him and keep him comfortable, and I was afraid that I was hurting him all the time.”
Jim became an in-patient at Stepping Stone Hospice at the end of June. “From the time you walk in the front door, you are supported and looked after,” says Anne. “The staff are all absolutely wonderful – there was always someone checking in on Jim to see if he was comfortable, had water,
had eaten, needed anything, etc. They could even tell when I was feeling down; they appreciated that I am far away from my home and am essentially in limbo. They were never too busy to chat.”
As for what lies ahead, Anne says they’re leaving that up to God. One thing’s for sure, Jim Murray is a true example of the saying, ‘Do what you love and never work a day in your life’.
Jim Murray, a Stepping Stone Hospice patient, surrounded by family at his 70th birthday celebrations.