When I began supporting hospice many years ago, I never imagined that I would need it for my own family.
My old friend Jeff Vender has served in leadership roles in what is now JourneyCare, and continues to host the Annual Memorial Golf Tournament each August. I was always happy to support my friend and his beloved causes of hospice and palliative care, which I feel are important services to the community.
But all I really knew about hospice was that it helps people at the end of life to die gracefully and with dignity, in a peaceful way.
My awareness grew, however, four years ago when my wife Barbara was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Although she already needed extensive medical care due to multiple strokes she suffered
many years earlier, we were able to share our lives and watch our three children and five grandchildren grow up.
Following her cancer diagnosis, we opted for curative treatment like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Ultimately, however, her disease progressed and we chose JourneyCare to care for Barbara in the final days of her life.
Barbara came to the Marshak Family Hospice CareCenter in Glenview on the Robert H. and Terri L. Cohn Campus, since she required around-the-clock care. The treatment there was so fantastic, medically and beyond.
The care team was empathetic and helpful with our family’s needs. They were always seeking ways to be supportive. Barbara received spiritual care and even visits from a therapy dog.
Barbara was also a huge Cubs fan and, that fall of 2015, the team made the playoffs. To celebrate, groups of friends and family would come to the Hospice CareCenter for viewing parties.
I am lucky that Barbara and I got to see all five of our grandchildren graduate before she passed away. And lucky, too, that she received such holistic care with JourneyCare.
Even after Barbara was gone, I appreciated that JourneyCare made it easy for myself, our friends and our family to honor her memory. The process for encouraging others to donate to JourneyCare in lieu of flowers during her memorial service was seamless. I was also able to donate toward a memorial for Barbara that is now in JourneyCare’s Waud Family Healing Garden in Glenview – a place that brings serenity to other patients and their families.
For anyone who is like I was all those years ago – someone looking to be helpful in the community – I can now say firsthand that JourneyCare is a very, very fine cause.
– By Elisabeth Mistretta, JourneyCare Content Specialist
Originally published in Together to Care, Issue 2, 2017