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CancerLynx - we prowl the net
May 6,2000

Ending Days
Sandra Anne Caverly In Memorium February 26th 1939 - May 25th 2001

Many of us have little ones we have to leave behind. We can only be glad that we have had the opportunity to have known them. The greatest gifts, the truest lessons of love, are our children and grandchildren.

I have been in the hospice program for just over a year, and have a nursing service coming into my home -- cleaners and counsellors. They are wonderful, and work with the family, all of us, not just the patient. They let me decide how much help I need,and adapt as the need increases.

I am already registered for palliative care at my hospital. I feel this is right, because my husband and children could be terribly wounded by watching me die 24 hours a day. It gives them back our home as a refuge at a time when they will need it most. Also, I felt I will get the best care from experienced caregivers in a well- organized environment.

It is hardly possible to put into words the feelings, the complete change of my whole world as I have known it. We all call my hospice ward cloud nine. There are people in various stages of conditions, and a variety of problems -- some extraordinary humour and good feelings amongst the patients and staff, and of course a few heart- rending tragedies fluctuating throughout the ward... yet one comes away with a strange peace, a comfortable acceptance.

I was in a ward with two women who were in the last stages of dying. One, in fact, passed on while I was there. She was about 60, with no family, but six wonderful friends who never never seemed to leave her bedside. They were such wonderful friends and gathered all her personal things around her. They stayed, and talked, and gave her back rubs, and talked to her constantly. They took turns curling up on the chairs to spend the nights with her, they brought food to coax her to eat, they shared memories of the adventures that they had had through the years.

There was also a Chinese family saying goodbye to their mother. They too did round the clock vigils and spelled each other. Those women were not alone.

At first I felt uncomfortable being there, that I was somehow invading their privacy. I would wander out to the lounge to get away, as my emotions were scrambled by my own situation. Both groups, however, easily included me in conversation, as we told stories of our loved ones: how they had suffered and fought and continued to be brave -- little antedotes of humour, trips taken -- soon, I just got to know who these women were. The staff, too, got very involved, and let themselves be known to us as caring, loving, compassionate people who could look straight at the events unfolding.
Sandy Caverly
British Columbia, Canada May 6, 2000

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