Last week, I was at the airport and noticed an advertisement from a local hospital: Cancer Care-we stop at nothing.
I stopped and took it in, we stop at nothing. Stop at nothing in the fight against cancer, that was the advertising campaign. And indeed, there are many situations in which stop at nothing is desired and promising. During the flight though, I thought about the many patients I cared for in a long career in end of life nursing. I remembered the suffering, hopelessness, anxiety, fear and uncertainty of cancer progression and treatment. I thought about the extensive time spent by patients in hospitals, emergency rooms, infusion centers, scanners, labs, radiology and clinics. I thought about the long, slow recovery from treatment after a hospitalization or a long day in the clinic.
So much time, time that those patients and families would never get back. All that time, all that stop at nothing, reduced precious time at home, with family, children, grandchildren and friends. Time that could have been spent in a comfy recliner, sun coming in the window, sweet dog at their side and perhaps even the primary caregiver finally having an opportunity to sleep in.
Yet, there is another way, another path and another option. That option is to embrace rather than fight the disease process and pending death. Last summer, I became an end of life doula. Doulas come alongside those at the end of life, and we too stop at nothing. We don’t stop until the symptoms are managed, the setting is just as the person wants, the loved ones are supported, any unfinished business is attended to, attempts at reconciliation have been made, the funeral/burial/memorial/legacy plans are in place and until the person at the center of the care is affirmed, nurtured, loved and supported. As end of life doulas, we too stop at nothing and that includes the death. We don’t stop at the death, we continue to reach out to the family, supporting through grief and remember the privilege of sharing that intimate journey with them.
Photo Credits: ©Juliet Barnard; ©John Fredricks at Epoch Times 2020
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