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
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving more than 30 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email questions@hrrv.org or visit www.hrrv.org.

 

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