MY HOSPICE. MY JOURNEY.

Because hospice gives each patient the excellent care they deserve.

My hospice journey began 19 years ago when I was 20 years old.  My daddy was diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  He had radiation and chemotherapy, but ultimately the cancer was stronger than the medications.  In August of 1992 the cancer had metastasized to his liver, lungs and brain.  In the six weeks following, my daddy was in the care of the wonderful family of St. Anthony’s Hospice.  I will never forget the loving care they gave to my daddy during those last six weeks, they even helped my mother through those difficult months after his death.

My life took a different path after this.  I graduated college with a lab tech. degree.  I married and had my first child and I went to work at Welborn hospital in the laboratory.  My job in the laboratory required me to see patients and collect lab samples.  I frequently went to the oncology unit, I found that the amount of time I was spending with these terminal patients was changing me.  I was being called to do more.  I went back to college and earned my nursing degree.  It took me a few years before I was able to get a job at St. Anthony’s.  During my interview, I was asked why I had applied for a position.  I said, “I have always wanted to be a hospice nurse, I just haven’t made it here yet”.  I was so excited and honored that I was hired to be part of the St. Anthony’s Hospice family.

I joined the St. Anthony’s Hospice family on December 1, 2008.  The past few years have been the most rewarding time of my life.  When I meet a patient for the first time, I know that the relationship will be temporary, however, this really changes the way you care for someone.  I think of my daddy and give each patient the excellent care that they deserve.

My name is Beth Ricketts, RN and hospice is my journey.

Because our hospice volunteers say they receive more than they could ever give.

I became a hospice volunteer in February 2009 after reading an article in the local newspaper about a volunteer training session being offered at St Anthony’s Hospice.

Hospice took care of my sister Barbara who died in 2007 and of my brother Billy who died in 2008.  They were both able to pass away peacefully in their own homes.  Being at home would not have been possible for either of them if not for the wonderful services provided by Hospice.

I became a Hospice volunteer in order to try and give back to an organization that had given so much to my family.  I have been volunteering for almost three years now and still have not been able to give back.   I have received so much with each volunteer opportunity I have accepted.  I have been given the opportunity to know a truly dedicated staff of Hospice professionals, meet a lot of brave people, interacted with many loving families and witness the difference small acts of kindness can make in the life of someone who is alone or in a nursing home.  I think the most joy I have received while volunteering was from being able to help with two of the children’s bereavement camps.  It was truly amazing to see the positive difference in the children from the time the camp began until it was over. Wow, I still get tears of joy just remembering!

I take great pride in being a small part of an organization that gives so much to our community in so many ways.

My name is Brenda Williams, volunteer, and hospice is my journey.

Because hospice can do something about fear, about pain, about laughter, about comfort and about grief.

I am Hospice for Adam, whose dignity was maintained in spite of a thief called Alzheimer’s disease.

My father, Adam Goebel, was such a positive presence in this world.  He was a devoted husband, ever enchanted with his loving wife.  He was a doting dad, encouraging and nurturing my younger brother and me.  Having a degree in business administration, he opted for a career at the Department for Social Insurance, which was a perfect fit for his compassionate nature.  He had an extensive vocabulary and a wry wit.  A former professional saxophone player, he was a lover of jazz and the Big Bands.  An avid sports fan, he could quote any stats you requested.  He was such a lover of life.

Then, the wicked disease of early on-set Alzheimer’s disease viciously robbed him of who he was.  St. Anthony’s Hospice, however, provided us with the support and confidence we needed to take care of him at home. After a continual deterioration, fifteen months after his SAH admission, he died, but he died with the dignity he so richly deserved, with his family by his side, and with Sinatra singing on the stereo next to him.

Hospice couldn’t do anything about death. But hospice can do something about fear, about pain, about laughter, about comfort, about grief.  Today, I am part of hospice and hospice is part of me.  I remain inspired by the staff who gently guided us, and I strive to be who they are—a purveyor of life’s inherent dignity and worth.

My name is CeCe Bruner, MSW, CSW and hospice is my journey.

Because there are so many ways to help and be a part of this wonderful team.

I became a hospice volunteer in 1987. My mother-in-law was dying and we were fortunate to have St. Anthony’s Hospice for a week before her death. Lucy Williams was one of the nurses on the team and she was a blessing for our family. She encouraged us to play music to calm and soothe my mother-in-law. She told us it was important for her to know we were all there with her as she was dying. I was glad we were able to have this support from St. Anthony’s hospice.

After this experience with hospice, I knew I wanted to become a volunteer. I have volunteered in a variety of roles over the past 20 years with the organization and have done everything from carrying water into the first hospice office that had no running water inside, to being a big buddy for a child at the bereavement camp, to answering the phones, to stocking the snacks at the Lucy Smith King Care center, and one I remember the most was being there to comfort a teenage boy when his mom was dying. There are many individuals who say they do not want to volunteer for hospice because they are uncomfortable being around those who are dying.  My response is there are so many ways to help and be a part of this wonderful team. By not being involved you are missing out.

I feel like with my big heart and love, volunteer work is a mission, a part of my life and I could not imagine not being a part of St. Anthony’s Hospice team.

I believe in doing something good everyday for someone, and being a St. Anthony’s Hospice volunteer allows me the opportunity to fulfill that in my life.

My name is Ida, volunteer, and hospice is my journey.

Because hospice is what I love to do.

My Hospice journey began in 1994 as a supplemental position, at the time it was a just an extra job but over the years that has changed.  It is no longer a job, it is what I love to do.  The nursing positions I held before were just jobs but this role is a mission.  I strive to provide compassionate care to everyone whether they are 1 day old or 101 year just like I would want for myself or my family.  I have many hospice memories and moments that have molded and shaped me over the years, it is the patients and the families that I care for that have made me the Hospice nurse that I am today.

My name is Jennifer Chancellor, R.N. and hospice is my journey.

Because hospice was there for my dad and for us.

In the spring of 1999, my father was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent surgery and chemotherapy but nothing seemed to help. We contacted hospice and Dad was able to stay home and have the quality of life that he wanted and deserved. That was important to him, and to us, as well. The physician told us Dad only had two weeks to two months left to live, but he lived another 2 ½ years after the initial diagnosis was made. I believe it was due to the outstanding care he received.

Hospice helped Dad and our family in so many ways…they were able to control the pain and answer any questions we had about what to expect along this difficult journey. I know we couldn’t have taken care of Dad without the guidance and reassurance from the staff at hospice.  He was able to live his last months surrounded by family and friends, loved and cared for, at home, with dignity and respect. Hospice was there for my dad and for us, I consider them to be part of our family. So much so that I went to work for hospice several years later and I couldn’t be happier to be part of such a wonderful mission. Today, I am part of hospice and hospice is part of me.

My name is Kristie Large and hospice is my journey.

Because hospice touches us all.

When I started my journey as a hospice professional, my grandmother was so proud that I was following in her footsteps. I never knew, until I chose end-of-life care as my life’s work, that she had volunteered to care for the dying as a young woman. If there were friends in need, she would dress their open wounds and sit with them until their death.

Grandmother was part of the philosophy of Hospice long before we ever had it as a system to compassionately care for the terminally ill. So it was surely fitting that St. Anthony’s would provide comfort to her, and to all of us, in her home, which was the atmosphere that we all cherished so much.  Her goal in life was to promote togetherness in our family and to have ALL of her birds in her nest. She would schedule regular gatherings, cook the feast, lay out the quilts and throw pillows, and then sit back and glow while our whole family would eat, talk, play, and lounge around her family room.

When she fell ill and declined very quickly, my amazing colleagues at St. Anthony’s filed into her home in the most natural order to help us care for her. They joined us as we pulled the quilts, pillows, benches, and chairs around her bed and surrounded her with love. Feasts were prepared with her recipes, babies napped in playpens around her. We played the games she taught us, told stories, laughed, and cried. She had brought us together one last time and she laid there in peace and simply glowed until her very last breath.

Thanks to My Hospice, My Grandmother died in her home, with the dignity and loving care that she always gave to others, surrounded by all of her offspring, who were the light of her life. I feel so lucky to have now been both the giver and the receiver of the blessing that is called hospice care.

My name is Susan Vickers, MSW, CSW and hospice is my journey.

Because hospice allows people to die with love and dignity in the place of their choosing, the way they want to be.

My hospice journey began when I was just 17 years old.  I had never before heard of Hospice and obviously knew nothing about the concept of Hospice.  I was first introduced to Hospice while still in high school when I heard a Hospice Nurse give a talk about hospice care and what she did for the patient’s and families she cared for on a daily basis.  I was so moved and energized by what I was hearing that I said to myself “I want to do that.  I want to be part of that kind of caring”.  I never let go of that and have now been with My Hospice for over 17 years.

I can remember caring for a woman in her late 50’s who was dying of lung cancer.  While making a routine visit to her house it was apparent that she was quickly declining.  Her daughter was in the living room sitting beside her mother’s hospital bed and I could tell that she was having a difficult time.  I said to her “What can I do for YOU?”   She told me that she wished she could lay with her mother and hold her the way her mother used to hold her when she was a child.  I told her she absolutely could and we repositioned her mother in the bed and she climbed in the bed with her mother and held her and told her how much she loved her.  Her mother died just a few days later.

About 5 years later that same daughter came up to me in the grocery store and thanked me for the care that Hospice provided to her mother and for allowing her to do what she needed to do most.  She said she will always have that memory of being able to have those last hours with her mother just the two of them.   That is what Hospice is all about.   Allowing people to die with love and dignity in the place of their choosing, the way they want it to be.

My name is Tina Eckels, RN and hospice is my journey.