Powerful, moving speeches from a widower and a palliative care physician moved some guests to tears during this weekend’s otherwise fun new hospice charity event.
Langley Hospice Society partnered with the Fraser Valley Potters’ Guild to host the inaugural Glass Half Full fundraiser at Harrison Pointe Saturday.
The sold-out event raised more than $20,000 for hospice, and fundraiser Shannon Todd Booth said there’s an definite appetite to do it again.
“The event was an overwhelming success,” she said.
One of the more powerful presentations came from Malcolm Sask, who lost his wife to cancer a year ago last month.
His family’s story was recently captured by hospice executive director Nancy Panchuk, and speaks to how important the new hospice residence will be for ongoing support to families struggling through the end of life stages.
Meilin had been eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise, and at 44 years of age she was arguably in the best shape of her life.
So the sudden discovery of Stage IV rectal cancer and an immediate threat to her life was a horrible shock for her husband, Malcolm, and their two young daughters, Olivia and Jennica.
Despite getting world-class care at the cancer clinic, within a couple of months she was admitted to the hospital under full-time care, and as her treatment moved into the palliative-care stage, the family was given the option of staying in hospital or moving Meilin to the Langley Hospice Residence for care.
The move to hospice brought her closer to home, where friends and family could spend time with Meilin during her final weeks, and more importantly, it allowed her husband Malcolm to be by her side as well as providing the much needed presence and support for their daughters.
The late stages of a fast moving cancer are unpleasant, painful and debilitating— the family is left watching and waiting, as their body functions shut down, one by one.
Having the support of the hospice staff and volunteers to provide monitoring, ongoing pain management, and to attend to her comfort allowed Malcolm and her family to focus on supportting Meilin and one another through this difficult experience.
“I’ve got to tell you, the clinical and process environment of a hospital is not a very comfortable or heartwarming place, but trying to manage all the needs of her care at home for those final weeks would have been awful, especially for the girls. The move to the Langley Hospice brought us much closer to home and was accessible for our daughters, family and friends to make short 10 minute visits and is an environment that allows warmth and love while still providing medical care and support. They were able to manage her pain right to the end, in a way that would never been possible for us at home,” Malcolm shared.
Caring for people at the end of life means enabling them to live out their final days as they wish, surrounded by those they love. The hospice philosophy speaks to the importance of a home-like environment to ensure support for individuals, their families and friends as they face this final journey.
“The end of life journey is not just about dying, it’s about living well, right to the end…”
Since 1983, the Langley Hospice Society (LHS) has been dedicated to providing quality pallia��ve and bereavement care and support for individuals, families, and caregivers who are living with a terminal illness, have suffered a loss through suicide, overdose, unexpected trauma, or who are coping with grief and the end of life. In addition to our grief and bereavement support programs, the society also provides one-to-one, vigil and respite support through our palliative volunteer program at the hospice residence and in the community.
From the beginning, Langley Hospice has always maintained the goal of a new hospice residence for our community, and has been working tirelessly to make a new 15-bed hospice residence a reality. Our staff and volunteers are working closely with our funding partners, to ensure a space that will have the ability to meet the new and updated end of life care standards of private rooms; that will house its own specialized bathing facili��es and onsite kitchen facilities for patients and families; and provide broader access for patients to common areas, the outdoors and other comforts that can ease the end-of-life journey for loved ones and their families.
With the funds in place to build our new hospice residence, through the generous support of the Province of BC, Fraser Health, BC Centre for Palliative Care, the Township of Langley and private donations – we anticipate breaking ground early in the new year.
In the meantime, we need your help to raise the additional $1 million necessary to furnish and outfit the new residence, and truly make our new house – a home for all who enter its doors.
Your support will help families like the Sasks, to continue to receive quality palliative care in a setting that is serene, calm and provides the comforts of home. Just being able to surround loved ones with personal items and keepsakes while at hospice makes an enormous difference and a lasting impact.
Knowing that who and what you hold dear is close at hand helps ease the mind… a place of comfort, care and support as they take this final journey.
Malcolm Sask also shared the following:
“…I feel that it’s important for the community to understand that there is really no family support from the health care system after the death of a loved one…we had 3 or 4 conversations with a care worker while in the hospital, who gave me a couple of pamphlets.
Having access to the Langley Hospice Society for grief support, after Meilin’s passing, has been important for our family to get through this in any kind of functional manner.
Staff have provided our daughters with one-to-one and group support weekly, as well as access to activity-based grief support camp programs and more.
Just try to imagine trying to help your 10 and 13 year old girls deal with the sudden death of their mom, without access to people who are trained and experience with bereavement support – while, at the same time grappling with your own emotions and adjustments to a life you didn’t plan without your wife and partner by your side.
Slowly, we’re learning a new normal, one step at a time. My heartfelt thanks to everyone at the hospice society, because it’s with their help that we are doing OK.”