A Love Story

This is a love story told in an unconventional setting – hospice care

You know this story: John meets Ginnie, Ginnie likes John, they make a few plans. Then Ginnie moves away, John moves on, 32 years pass, and they’re reunited through the miracle of Google. (Did I mention it’s a thoroughly modern love story?) John smiles with irony as he recalls the decision to pull up roots and move north from Missouri to claim his bride: “She had only one condition – I had to give up smoking.” 10 months later came John’s devastating diagnosis: stage-4 lung cancer.

John’s a fighter. Following surgery, he completed 14 months of continuous chemo-therapy, coping with an allergic reaction to one of the trial drugs. John recalls feeling steadily weaker, less in control. “I used to have two or three good days in between my infusions. Then it was more like one, and then, I realized there were no more good days. In fact, I was probably a good two days behind even thinking about a good day. I decided to stop treatment.

Like most people, we thought of hospice as a way to manage my dying. We wanted to make some plans. Our pastor recommended U.P. Hospice, and within an hour of our first call, the nurse came to our home. We quickly discovered that a well-run hospice is focused on living, and living well, with the knowledge of a life-threatening illness. We learned a few other things along the way:

We learned that as my illness advances or retreats, we can move smoothly in and out of hospice care. For instance, if I want to resume my chemo treatments, I can leave the hospice service and switch back to regular home health, keeping the same nurses. This is a great advantage with U.P. Home Health and Hospice.

We learned that hospice is efficient! It keeps us out of the busy emergency rooms and exhausting hospital admissions. Hospice cuts through the red tape and keeps us in touch with the experts 24 hours a day, even on the weekends. Our doctors truly want to help, but hospice care is not their specialty. Hospice is all that U.P. Hospice does. We can ask them anything. Their team is one of the most impressive combinations of professionalism and caring we’ve ever encountered, anywhere”

John pauses, and we all listen for a minute to the quiet ticking of the clock. “Our goals these days have sharpened. I want to regain strength and hopefully try more treatment. We know the hospice team will be there when it’s time to re-evaluate and move on to the next stage of my illness. In the meantime, our goal is to stay in love as long as we can! And Hospice even helped us with that through their own version of Make-a-Wish. Just last week, they sent us out with a photographer to re-capture our wedding scene at the river by the Tourist Park falls. Soon, they’ll re-build the dam and the water will rise. You won’t even know the river was there.” John’s smile lingers, and Ginnie reaches out to touch his hand. “We can’t wait to see the pictures.” (See, we told you it’s a love story.)