Hospice: South Coast Hospice
Name of patient: Jim
Written by: South Coast Hospice
Diagnosis: Cancer
Message: Our members work alongside medical doctors to provide social, psychological, and spiritual support, as well as home-based care, to patients and their families.

Letter by patient’s family who would like to remain anonymous

Receiving bad news is never pleasant and when you are being told that your loved one has cancer, it is quite common to experience many emotions all at once. The one thing I do know, is that life as we knew it would never be the same again. As my doctor said to me at the time: “the journey on a roller coaster, had just begun.”

One of the biggest shocks my husband and our family members received was that we were no longer in control of the day-to-day happenings. The rut which we complained about seemed a distant comfortable memory, as we were guided by appointments, blood tests, treatments and emergency visits to doctors to find relief from all of the above.

One of the most important calls I made was to South Coast Hospice, and this was done with a certain amount of reserve, as both my husband and I had the perception that calling on South Coast Hospice for assistance would be admitting that we were in fact giving up.

How wrong I was, for to offer pain and symptom control to a loved one is an act of compassion and it was with this that my husband came into the in-patient unit, King Fisher house, for his first visit. It was a shock to the system as over the weeks we had gotten used to sitting in various queues at different facilities and being treated like just another number, (which of course, we were).

On arrival in the unit my husband was treated with respect and his care and comfort became a top priority, and for the first time in many weeks I felt the weight of this burden easing as I knew that he would be treated with kindness. And what was extremely noticeable was that the comfort of a compassionate touch brought tears to my eyes and I knew we had come to a place which might not be the most sophisticated, but the heart, the warmth and the dedication of every single staff member was visible.

Pain control and symptom relief is a key focus. The liquid morphine with regards to pain control was explained to us in great detail as we had started this journey with cancer with pre-conceived ideas of the use of morphine. Once these symptoms were under control and we were both given some counselling, our coping mechanisms once we returned home were far better and it gave us an opportunity to spend time together in a less stress-free environment. To make plans and see family members that we hadn’t been in contact with for some time.

During the periods that we were at home we were visited by the Urban Home Care team and their professional and practical advice was invaluable. My husband’s final days were spent at King Fisher House, and during those days all aspects concerning the quality of his life were met. The minister visited, The doctor and the clinical staff ensured that his physical symptoms were managed and the team ensured that his dignity was maintained by caring for his physical needs. King Fisher House gave us all of that and more and whilst the pain of his loss hurts deeply, I am comforted that we gave him respect and dignity in his last days.

We ask that Hospices throughout South Africa are given support.

In Loving Memory of Jim Van Dyk

To My South Coast Hospice Family,

Much is taught and learnt about Life
Time passes and the lessons of dying
Are a last resort.

Thank you.

Teaching with love and kindness
Your example is life-changing.
Allowing me the privilege of sharing
In my beloved’s care

Thank you.