April 6, 2012

No Regrets – A Hospice Story

Pam Young has no regrets, but if she had it all to do over, she would like to have learned about Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro (HPCG)sooner.

At age 50, Pam’s husband Gary was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer.  “We had started talking about retiring,” Pam said. “After receiving the news, we felt that our future had been completely sidetracked.

Over the next six years,Gary underwent various chemotherapy treatments and surgeries and fought hard without complaint.  Pam was not burdened by being Gary’s primary caretaker at home.  “We had been blessed with so much – 30 years of marriage and a wonderful daughter,” she said.  But the role did take its toll on her.

When Gary’s condition changed and the word “hospice” was mentioned, Pam was overwhelmed with fear.  But after meeting with their HPCG nurse and social worker, she was immediately put at ease.  The HPCG team assessed Gary’s needs and made all the necessary arrangements for medical equipment and medications. “They even worked directly with Gary’s oncologist, keeping him informed of Gary’s condition and pain management.” Pam said.

“Our daughter Alison and I wanted the best for Gary as we were facing the most devastating time in our lives. Whenever I had a question or needed help, HPCG was only a phone call away.”

“When the time came where I could no longer manage by myself at home, I asked HPCG for help to place Gary in the best facility possible,” Pam recalled. “Gary’s condition was deteriorating at a rapid pace.  It was a blessing that a room was available at HPCG’sBeacon Place.”

The Youngs found Gary’s room at Beacon Place well equipped for his care. “It had a very home-like setting,” Pam said. “Alison and I were able to let go of our caregiver roles and to just be at his bedside to share our love for him.”

The Beacon Place staff felt like extended family members to the Youngs, as the staff provided compassion and expert medical care.

Occasionally, a small cat appeared outside Gary’s door in the evenings.  One night the cat slowly walked through the bedroom’s patio door and jumped into Alison’s lap and spent the night with the Youngs.  It was the night before Gary Young died – just one week following his admission.  “That little cat was our little angel of comfort,” Pam said.

“I wanted to share my story because I hope our community will continue to provide honorariums and memorials to HPCG,” Pam said.  “HPCG provides so much for our friends and families.  There is no way I could have managed without them.”

Article originally published in May 2009 HPCG Newslines