Hospice: Tygerberg Hospice
Name of patient: Marshall
Written by: Tygerberg Hospice
Diagnosis: Paraplegia
Message: Palliative care is not only end of life care. It is the holistic care provided to anyone diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening condition with the aim of improving their quality of life.

Marshall’s life story is one of struggle, adversity, and determination. Having grown up surrounded by gang violence, Marshall lost his father at 5 years old, impacting his future decisions which ultimately led him down a similar path.

Marshall was raised in Kraaifontein by his mother, he reflects on his rebellious years as a teenager and the impact it had on his life and current situation. Being a parent today he understands and recognises the guidance and discipline his mother tried to instil in him.

Marshall sustained severe injuries to his spinal cord due to gunshot wounds in 2020 and while recuperating he developed significant wounds in the sacral region. As a result of his serious injuries and severe wounds, the palliative care team at Tygerberg Hospice were asked to step in and they provided impeccable support both medically and psychosocially.

Palliative care supports the full individual through patient centred care to improve their quality of life by delivering adequate pain relief and symptom control with the goal to fully support the individual and their family. Accordingly, the treatment at Tygerberg Hospice focuses on holistic care. This includes nursing care, rehabilitation, psychosocial support, and spiritual care.

For a young man like Marshall his palliative care team’s goal was to improve his quality of life, even though his injuries are severe and life limiting. The life he knew had completely changed and they remain determined to provide him with a dignified life so that he could manage his goals and live as ‘normal’ as possible.

Reflecting on his current situation, Marshall muses that if his father was still alive things may have been different and he might not have made the decisions he did. With time and the counselling provide by hospice, he says he has begun to make peace with the condition of his body and the situation he finds himself in. Through the support of the team his quality of life has improved. The multidisciplinary team of physical therapists, occupational therapists and social workers have shown that palliative care patients can live a dignified life and work towards collective goals to empower the patient through their illness.

There are many misconceptions about hospice and what it offers. Marshall says that before he arrived at Tygerberg Hospice, he had no idea what a hospice was or what they could offer him. He says that he appreciates how he was treated and supported by the team and that this is ongoing. Most importantly, Marshall says that he reflects on his past daily, saying it’s a day-to-day journey of self-forgiveness and second chances.

Hospice is about living, not about dying. There is hope for different goals. Hope doesn’t die when one engages with a hospice, but it changes the way it looks.