What a Terminal Illness Cannot Do

We take care of people who have declining health because of a terminal illness. In many of the cases, cancer is the devastating catalyst for their rapidly declining health.

Some people may wonder how professionals can deal with death and dying on a continuous basis. We continue to show up for patients and their families every day to help them face challenges because through this work we encounter the most amazing, strong human spirits—people with inspiring stories of love, joy and passion for life, no matter how short lived their lives may be.

A Story of Hope
A Hospice of the Red River Valley registered nurse (RN), shared the following story about an inspiring patient interaction:

She spoke with a woman who had a terminal cancer about hospice care. When learning her history of disease progression, the nurse learned much more than she had imagined. What deeply affected her was not learning of the metastatic nature of the cancer, but of the metastatic nature of her love and of those all around her.

As the woman and her husband shared their story and immense love for one another, they also expressed the numerous displays of love and support they received from other people who touched their lives—friends, neighbors, former coworkers, health care professionals, community clergy and even acquaintances. Lined along their banister were various cards, letters, notes and trinkets offering condolences, words of hope and messages of strength. One rainbow bright card caught the hospice nurse’s attention, and she asked if she could read it. The woman said, “of course.” The words on the card resonated with her:

What Cancer Cannot Do
It cannot cripple Love…
It cannot erode Faith…
It cannot destroy Peace…
It cannot kill Friendship…
It cannot suppress Memories…
It cannot silence Courage…
It cannot invade the Soul…
It cannot steal eternal Life…
It cannot conquer the Spirit.
(Anonymous)

The nurse visited the patient a few more times after the initial meeting. She taught the family about the dying process and empowered them with the tools to keep their loved one as comfortable as possible through pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods. The woman passed away comfortably, in her home, surrounded by many loved ones at her side. Throughout the entire journey, the words on the rainbow colored card brightly shined on her banister. The nurse said she never forget them.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
In 1981, Hospice of the Red River Valley was founded on the fundamental belief that everyone deserves access to high-quality end-of-life care. We fulfill our nonprofit mission by providing medical, emotional, personal and spiritual care, as well as grief support to our patients, their families and caregivers during a tender time in life. Our staff helps those we serve experience more meaningful moments through exceptional hospice care, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, wherever a patient calls home. Spread across more than 50,000 square miles in North Dakota and Minnesota, Hospice of the Red River Valley offers round-the-clock availability via phone, prompt response times and same-day admissions, including evenings, weekends and holidays. Contact us anytime at 800-237-4629 or hrrv.org.

 

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