Hospice: A Place of Angels

What do you think when you hear the word: “Hospice”? A common perception is that Hospice is a place to go to die. This was also my own perception until i was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma ( Kidney Cancer). 

My family and friends were shocked, as cancer, and any other life threatening diseases, confronts us with our own mortality, which is something we choose not to rather not talk about.  Their reaction towards the news were either one of two: they either ignored the fact that I am ill (which was the most painful for me), or got extremely emotional and cried.  I was overcome with a feeling that I had to be ‘strong’ for the sake of my loved ones, although I never before in my life had felt so desolate and lonely.

A good friend of mine desperately wanted to help me, but did not have the slightest idea about how.She decided to contact our local branch of Hospice in Somerset West, Helderberg Hospice, and very quickly I received a visit from the Hospice social worker.  It was a tremendous relief to talk to someone other than family or friends about my personal emotions and the threat of dying.Here was someone who listened to me!

She immediately arranged for nursing Sister to visit me and evaluate the general condition of my health.A huge problem was the pain I had to endure, and pain management is a specialisation of Hospice.They addressed the problem and ensured that my pain levels became manageable They also prepared me psychologically for surgery to remove one of my kidneys.

A further concern from my husband was that should I come through the operation successfully and be discharged from hospital, who would be able to take care of me, as he is fulltime at work?  Hospice addressed this concern by admitting me to their in-patient facility, where I was taken care of until I was able to move around easily, bathe myself and prepare a meal.They also took care of the wound, which was another concern.

Even after surgery and being declared “cancer free” they continued to follow up on my progress, as I also suffer from a longstanding heart and lung condition.  Apart from receiving regular visits from a Home Care Sister, I attend a Hospice day group once a week, where interaction with other patients keeps me from becoming isolated.The volunteers organise outings, teach us new skills with arts and crafts and positive motivation to keep us positive and feeling worthy as a human being.  Illness should not isolate us, shrink our world and make us less dignified than the healthy.  My group has become my ‘family’ and my emotional support.

Hospice services are available to anyone who suffers from a life threatening disease, irrespective of culture, race or religion.Their success is dependent on donations from the public, participation in events and by supporting their shops selling clothes, books, bric-a-brac, etc

Volunteer’s services are from utmost importance. Without them Hospice cannot function and deliver this critical important service to the community. There are various options of services rendered, where a prospective volunteer can contribute towards the cause. The staff and volunteers at Helderberg Hospice have made a huge difference in my life, and that is why I say Hospice is a place of angels.