The widow of a hospice patient spoke recently at the CHP “Beacon of Hope” dinner/auction in Van Wert describing her family’s hospice experience. Chris Turner conveyed how her husband, Glenn, fought valiantly against a rare form of cancer. Following diagnosis and progressing through months of treatments, the family avoided even uttering the dreaded “H-word;” as if the very mention of hospice meant giving up hope.
Eventually, her husband’s condition worsened to the point that doctors had exhausted all curative measures and wanted to admit Glenn to the hospital to keep him comfortable. Chris asked, “Do you mean hospice?” The doctor quickly apologized and said, “We [doctors] do a terrible job of not discussing hospice sooner. We focus so much on treatment that we neglect to take the time to explain hospice and palliative care options.”
Chris informed the doctor that the family wanted Glenn to come home. Before doing that, the doctor insisted that Chris have help lined up to assist her in caring for her husband. Fortunately, Chris was familiar with CHP and informed the doctor that there was a “great hospice program in Van Wert.”
Glenn returned home where he received nursing care to keep him comfortable. The family appreciated the daily visits and interaction with the nurses. As Glenn’s needs were being met, Chris and her son, Scott, could focus on being together with Glenn as a family rather than on being his caregivers. Eventually, Glenn moved to the Van Wert Area Inpatient Hospice Center where he passed. Through this process, Chris’s attitude toward hospice changed from dread to encouragement, empowerment, and hope.
“I learned that hospice does not mean, ‘giving up hope,’” she said. “Hospice is accepting help. Hospice gave us hope. I didn’t realize how much help we needed.”
Most people don’t understand what hospice is and fear the very utterance of the word. When the situation is appropriate and hospice is mentioned, the reaction sometimes is: “Oh no, I don’t want that!” But do you understand what you’re saying you don’t want?…expert care for both patient and family in the familiar surroundings of home?…possibly living longer and more comfortable during the time you have left?…time to focus on relationships in a deeper and more intentional way?…realizing end-of-life goals?…support for the entire family?…follow-up bereavement support?
The Turner family learned first-hand that transitioning to hospice means shifting from one set of goals (how to get longer life through a cure) to another (how to get the best quality of life out of whatever time is left). Hope is not lost; it is discovered in accepting the help of others. You are not giving up; you are choosing to live as fully as possible. These are important lessons best taught by those who have learned by experience.
To learn more about hospice care call your closest CHP Home Care & Hospice office to speak with a nurse.