This is the story about Mary, but is also a story about love, hope, dreams, dignity, quality of life and peace and therefore it is also a story of Palliative care.
In 2012 Mary had a stroke which left her semi-paralysed on her right-hand side and speech impaired. But Mary, with the loving support of her son and daughter-in-law, took control of her life and still had a fulfilling life, living on her own, going on holidays to Mozambique with her family and having a good life.
In April 2016 Mary was diagnosed with stage 4 Endometrial cancer. She had a Hysterectomy, but before she could start with chemotherapy, they determined that the cancer has spread to her liver and lungs and she decided not to have any more treatment.
In January 2017 Mary’s son contacted Centurion Hospice for advice and help. On the first visit, by the Palliative Care Trained Nursing Sister, it was clear that Mary (age 58 years) was very weak and that she has developed a few troubling symptoms that took away her dignity and quality of life. With the help of a Palliative Care Trained Doctor, the symptoms were addressed and within days under control. But Mary was still very weak and depressed. On one of the visits of the Sister, she was visiting with Mary, her son, daughter-in-law and Mary’s mother. Mary’s son mentioned that he, his wife and Mary’s mother had a holiday planned to Mozambique and that they were worried to leave Mary in her weak condition. Suddenly Mary’s hole face shined of hope and she said: “Saam”. We all looked at each other and asked her whether she meant that she wanted to go along on holiday and she said yes.
The planned trip was still a few weeks away and we were not even sure Mary will live that long, but decided that only time will tell if it will be possible. Yes, Mary’s family was definitely concerned that Mary might suddenly develop new symptoms or even pass away in Mozambique, but together we decided that Mary’s happiness is now the main concern, so on the next visit of the Sister she saw that Mary suddenly had hope again, she started to eat small amounts of food again and were very happy and excited. So, after the doctor examined her again and enough medicine was ordered, they left on their trip to Mozambique.
The blissful smile on Mary’s face says it all (see above).
After a week and a half Mary’s condition deteriorated slightly and after consultation with the Hospice Sister, the family decided to return home. Three days after returning home, Mary passed away peacefully with her loved ones at her side.
So, this is the story about Mary and how Palliative care helped her to have love, hope, dreams, dignity, quality of life and peace.
At the Centurion Hospice, we render a Palliative Care service to all patients (and their families) in our community diagnosed with a Life-Threatening disease. We are a holistic team of Palliative Care trained Nursing Sisters, a doctor, a social worker and volunteers all working together to walk the path with the patient, and the family, from the time of diagnoses till their peaceful passing.