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Hospice Care
February 1, 2016.
I
have been in hospice care since last Monday, January 25, at the in-patient center of Season’s Hospice at Weiss Memorial in Chicago. I tell you it changed my thinking about hospice care. I am sure others surprise to learn I am in hospice care: I am no Superman.  Marathon man does not end up in hospice but I am there now.

I am not minimizing the significance of this stage: it is a way station to the finish line.  It is also a pause where serious questions are asked about quality of life vs. extension of life.

First, let me first correct the impression about hospice and palliative care. It is a place where I am found relief to the agonizing pain from my left rib, a place I get 24-care, and allow me to rest. Everyday I see my doctors and they make quick assessment for any subtle changes. My wife sleeps well beside me knowing each night I get restful sleep.

I get along well with my palliative doctors, Dr. R and Dr. W.  Their care for me comes across as unfiltered and with authentic compassion I have not experienced. It also goes with nurses and staff. I was a mess when they brought me in last Monday. An ambulance transferred from my home to the hospital, delirious, dehydrated, vomiting, and in massive pain: I felt forsaken. With some magic pain cocktails I bounced back after 24-hours.

Tomorrow, if all goes well I will go home and care will continue there in-house this time. I miss my bed.

Hospice care may not be for everybody but I know it is for me. It should nonetheless be considered as a way to find peace and dignity. I have been touched, cared for by many people since I was first diagnosed in March 2008 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I have come a long way since then. Each individual have done their best for me, and left their mark, before being passed to the next worthy person. I am thankful and blessed. I am still here because of you.

The employee lunch room of the Season’s staff is just across my room. I went in there one night and saw all the letters, pictures, and postcards sent my families who have benefited from their care. All expressed their gratitude and appreciation to the care received by their love ones. I will not take a chance and leave it to others to say what I truly feel.  I want you to hear it from me….

I truly appreciate care I received at Season’s. It is not yet over but all I know is I will be well taken cared of until the end.

Wall of thanks.

Wall of thanks.

Cheers.

P.S. A special thanks to KatieH, my angel from Canada. She was the one who admitted me and saw me in my worst (death warmed over). She nursed me back to life.

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Two worlds: cancer and life

June 7, 2012

was recently reminded of the world(s) I live in: the world of cancer and the world of life. My cousin who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer early this year is no longer responding to all types of chemo treatments. In fact, they have stopped all treatments and has move to the final stage of care: hospice care at home.

Hospice care is a trigger word for cancer survivors. It means the end-of-life stage and the focus now is making you comfortable. I have seen people enter this stage of life and it is not pleasant. You know what is coming. More so, it unnerves to me that it is happening to a family member, who have been supportive of me when I was first diagnosed four years ago. Now, it is I who have to give them comfort.

I can imagine what is going through the mind of my cousin.  He has taken cared of this family all his married life, now he is and will not be able to take care of them.  Sucks. For the family left behind, it will be difficult.  I had sense this in my call to them.

“Hi, Ate (Elder female family member). How is Kuya (Elder male family member)?” I asked when I called recently.

“He is doing fine now. They stopped all treatments last Monday. Right now he is eating well and doing his walks. We brought him home from the hospital and he will be receiving hospice care here at home.” She replied.

Our conversation was thick with over-hanging emotions. No tears but I sense the underlying sentiment as we talked: I am doing fine while my cousin is entering hospice care. Why? It was the unanswered question that neither of us dare bring up, but it was there like an elephant in the room.

I was more worried about her but she seem to accept the reality of cancer taking her husband, my cousin. We danced around to find an easy conversation about the kids but there was no way of ignoring the inevitable. Promises were made and I hang-up with a heavy heart.

Damn you, cancer. How many more lives do you have to take and leave families empty with grief.

Two worlds colliding in me. As a cancer survivor, I straddle both worlds knowing that either side can tip the balance. I bid you good memories, Kuya. You paid my dues for being here and I will do my best to honor the legacy of our family.

Cheers.

P.S. This weekend my wife and I will be running a half marathon (13.1 miles) event locally, the North Shore Half Marathon. This one is for you, Kuya. So far, our longest training run was 16 miles, which we did last weekend (June 2).

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