In 2015 I had to say goodbye to my best friend and wife at the young age of 50, after a very hard 18-month battle to survive cancer. It was without a doubt the hardest thing I ever did and will ever have to do.
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We’ve been inviting Canadians to share their palliative care stories in connection with the launch of the Palliative Care Toolkit, a free, practical resource on serious illness (great for small group discussion) published by The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. We’re honoured by the stories you’ve entrusted to us to share.
By Randy Mueller
On November 9, 2015, I had to say goodbye to my best friend and wife at the young age of 50, after a very hard 18-month battle to survive cancer. It was without a doubt the hardest thing I ever did and will ever have to do. I can assure you that her love and will to live – to the very last moment until she was called home by her Saviour – was never ending.
Her wish was to pass away at home, and the care we received from the home palliative care team in the Okanagan was incredible. They laughed with us, cried with us and made my wife’s last few weeks here on earth, as difficult as they were, as pain-free as possible. The team went out of their way to make her comfortable and to ease our fears of her being in any undue pain, and never denied any form of treatment and offered her the cutting edge in technology. They brought in equipment, lifts, beds, 24-hour contact with nurse and doctor, access to counsellors for me and all friends and family affected 24/7, and even after death for as long as needed.
We had as many visits for as long as needed by nurses, and they even offered to train me to administer pain meds if I wanted, and I did. Cancer was in my wife’s hips, spine, shoulders, liver, both lungs, colon, adrenal glands and skull. Pain was a constant issue, but it was always under control. Death, like birth, is a process that we must all endure – and with today’s technology pain is very controllable.
Our last few days with my wife were surrounded by friends, family, music, prayers, caring nurses. It was truly a spiritual experience. I at no time would ever be able to end that life prematurely, even though watching the life being stolen out of the person that meant the most to me was incredibly painful. Twenty-four hours before her final breath, I asked Rhoda if she would do it all again (the chemo, treatments); and with a huge smile and tears she said, “Absolutely, yes.” She loved life to the fullest and left a huge legacy which was testament to the 500-plus people who came to her celebration of life.
I wish I had documented or somehow recorded her final days just to see how beautiful and spiritual it can be with proper palliative team training.
Read a feature story on palliative care from a recent issue of Faith Today.