I love to sew and for the past few years I’ve been sewing for the South Shore Hospice and Palliative Care Society — items for their sales, anything from rustic ice skates to tote bags, cushions and lap blankets. It was lovely to be able to do my part for such a worthy cause, but I never dreamed I would be reaping the benefit of Palliative Care now.
My first diagnosis of Metastatic Breast Cancer came in 2008. What followed was a very rough road as the chemotherapy perforated my colon and I was airlifted to hospital with peritonitis. Recovery was long and riddled with snags. I was given a two-year life expectancy, then when I reached that I was given 5 years and still I felt fine. After 10 years I was pronounced cured, but always lingering in the back of my mind was the word “Metastatic” and the 70% chance of recurrence.
So when for the past many months I suffered from shortness of breath, a persistent cough and debilitating fatigue, I was not at all surprised to find that the Metastatic Breast Cancer had now spread to my lungs. I had some medical procedures to help me to breathe more easily, but declined the offer of further chemotherapy and radiation. Through the South Shore Hospice Palliative Care Society I was put in touch with South Shore Area Palliative Care Service.
From that moment, my life has changed and a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Death is not something many people like to talk about but I found discussing all my issues and worries with the care team was easy. I had visits from their sensitive nursing team who wanted to know how I want my future to unfold, and focussed on relieving my pain and discomfort, and allaying my concerns. They are totally dedicated to the compassionate end of life care in line with my personal choices.
Through partnerships with Community Care Services, the VON, and the EHS SPP, (Special Patient Programme whereby should I ever need to call the paramedics, I can give them my special patient number and they will have immediate access to all my history and choices for treatment at their fingertips, to be able to treat me at home.) I have been able to access additional services. Palliative Care have also put me in touch with MAID since I expressed my desire to have a peaceful, medically-assisted death at home.
After the initial whirlwind of dates and meetings with the care team members, everything has been addressed and I am now able to live my life in relative comfort, the way I choose, and help is only a phone call away. They check in with me regularly to see if I have any needs or concerns. I can’t speak highly enough of the swift response of the palliative team and their care and gentle support.
I am also particularly fortunate in having not only such a devoted husband and best friend of 55 years, two wonderful children and four grandchildren, all of whom support me in my life choices, but also many amazing friends in the Elderfit family where, until recently, I have been a very eager participant and instructor for some years. Not to forget some exceptional neighbourhood friends who will do anything at all to help us. A heart-felt thank-you to all of you.
Finally, I am indebted to the South Shore Hospice Palliative Care Society’s many volunteers for their fund raising efforts and for the outstanding service provided by South Shore Area Palliative Care professional staff. We are so privileged to have all of these dedicated people working to support palliative patients and their families.