Though Diane Egyarto and I were born as cousins, we grew up as sisters. As children, we lived in the same apartment building and played together every single day. We celebrated every Christmas and Thanksgiving together.
Di and I even shared vacation cruises and, of course, bunked in the same room. We had so much fun we fell sleep laughing and woke up laughing!
So, when Di was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer at age 60, of course we visited the oncologist together, along with Di’s partner and love of her life, Dave.
After initial treatments that included surgery and radiation, Di showed progress and we hoped for remission. But her cancer returned and spread to her spine within six months. Eventually, doctors said no treatment options remained.
It was difficult to convince Di to choose hospice when the time came last year. She was adamant that she wanted to stay home and avoid trips to the hospital or nursing home care to manage her pain.
But, together, Di, Dave and I chose JourneyCare just in time. Di’s heavy pain medications were no longer effective and she could not sleep. Her JourneyCare nurse suggested Di receive care at the Marshak Family Hospice CareCenter on the Robert H. and Terri L. Cohn Campus in Glenview.
Though leaving home wasn’t Di’s goal, she was quickly swayed when she saw pictures of the beautiful campus.
From the moment she arrived, the CareCenter staff treated both of us with such kindness. The person at the front desk knew exactly who I was when I arrived and updated me that Di, too, had just come by ambulance.
Di came into the unit experiencing pain and agitation. With calm, Registered Nurse Lisa Meyer walked to her bedside, held Di’s head and lowered herself to eye level, saying “We are going to take care of you now.”
That compassion was stunning. And it was something missing from her care all along.
The JourneyCare team changed Di’s medications and quickly her pain was under control. That is when a miracle happened for us: We were able to share wonderful times together again.
One day, we had a pizza party and watched a movie in her room. Another time, her sister and her closest friends, Nora and Sara, fixed her makeup to prepare for a visit from Dave, so Di could feel pretty for her sweetheart. And then there was the day my sister, Pat, came and the three of us talked for hours about our moms, our trips, about feelings left unsaid, and about making peace.
In our darkest hour, we came to JourneyCare and it was a blessing – an absolute blessing – because of the time we could share with Di.
Even in Di’s very last moments, JourneyCare allowed us to spend them as we always had for the last 62 years: together.
I was so grateful for Di’s time with JourneyCare that I began keeping an eye out for ways I could give back. This summer, I spotted calls to register for the Annual Memorial Golf Tournament and knew it was a perfect fit. My sons, James and Matthew, love golf and were thrilled at the idea of a round at the private Glen View Club.
The boys had a ball at the event, with James even winning the contest for longest drive. Afterward, my sister Pat and I joined my sons at the dinner and I won a wine package in the silent auction.
It was a beautiful event where we could be together as a family to celebrate in Di’s honor – and give back to JourneyCare for the care that was such a gift to us.
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