Posted On: Thursday, May 9, 2019
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Our mission is to provide medically supervised and supported end of life wishes to patients in the region who are facing a terminal diagnosis. Through granting wishes we hope to assist people to live with the terminal illness, REFRAME HOPE and enhance their quality of life until their death.
End of life wishes aren’t overly complicated. We anticipate them to be examples of things we see every day in this line of work: a request for a specific flavor of ice cream, to have a loved one flown in for a visit from out of country, to be able to go home one last time to see their garden, to have a visit from a beloved pet, to safely spend one last night at the cottage, to celebrate the anniversary/birthday/Christmas a few weeks early…Sometimes all it takes is permission to ask and the right group of motivated people to make it happen.
The summer before medical school I worked as a counsellor at a camp for children affected by childhood cancer. One of my campers was a 4 year old named Alexa. She had had a brain tumour removed and was still recovering when she came to camp. Her mobility was limited and her eye sight was affected, but her spirit never wavered. Her very favourite thing to do was arts and crafts, and one day we were (very slowly) walking across the main lawn to get to the arts and crafts building when Alexa spotted a dandelion. She stopped, crouched down and picked it up, admiring its fragility and beauty. I told her that if she made a wish and blew as hard as she could all of the little seeds would scatter and make her wish come true. She sat on the grass and thought and thought about her wish before blowing with all of her might. When she eventually grabbed my hand again to continue the walk I asked her, in a whisper, if she would share with me what she had wished for …”Yes!” she beamed excitedly, “I wished we could go to Arts and Crafts!”
Wishes don’t have to be overly complicated. Sometimes it’s the very simplest thing that can make all of the difference.
-Dr. Alyssa Boyd
Jane, a young mother from Stayner, was in the middle of her daughter’s busy soccer season when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I met her at the end of summer when tryouts for the next years season were just underway. She faced things head on as she admitted to me that this would be the first year that she wouldn’t be the trainer of her daughter’s soccer team. As she looked down at her emaciated body that could no longer ambulate without a walker she also recognized that she wasn’t even going to be able to attend her opening game. I left her house that day thinking how easy it could have been to grant Jane that wish…she died a month later, never making it to a game again.
Michael’s wish was simple. He had been a farmer his whole life; it was plowing season and he wanted simply to watch his son plow the field. It took a portable oxygen tank, a few warm blankets and a hoist into the car, but there he sat for hours at the corner of his hundred acre farm and watched his son plow the fields one last time. With a contented smile on his face, he was able to eat a full meal of meat and potatoes for dinner that night for the first time in months.
In his late 70s, Walter had lived a good life and was not afraid to die. The move to our local hospice was a sense of relief for him; he worried only for his wife and kids and how they were going to cope. It took a lot of questioning but finally I got him to focus on himself for a minute and tell me what brought HIM joy. “Ice cream” he finally admitted, “Maple Walnut”. But his FAVOURITE was Rum and Rasin but the they had stopped making that flavour a decade ago. As he pondered this he closed his eyes, remembering the flavour bliss he hadn’t experienced years.