Joan was a thoughtful, caring, funloving woman. She was a true friend; someone you could always count on. Joan was the heart and glue of her family. She was my best friend, my hero, my Mom.
Born and raised outside of Thamesville, she lived, worked, volunteered and raised her children in this community she loved.
Joan began to feel ill in the summer of 2017. She was no stranger to different pains and aches as she had lived with rheumatoid arthritis for 25 years. These pains had become different though and were worsening rapidly.
My brother went to visit her in mid August and when he walked in she was in the fetal position on the floor. He decided enough was enough and took her immediately to the hospital to get checked out.
The ER doctor considered different diagnosis, made a referral, and sent my mom on her way with pain medication. The following weeks we were in and out of the hospital several times but ended up with one scan and one blood test so definitive that Joan was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The tumor on her pancreas was large, aggressive and was already impeding her liver and bowels.
Joan was admitted to the medicine floor of the Chatham Hospital where we stayed for six days. It was then my mom’s doctors concluded her case was palliative.
Four months previous, Joan’s mother had died in this hospital. Our family had just experienced death in the hospital and we knew, if we had the opportunity, we wanted a different environment for my mom’s last few days.
We immediately insisted the doctor refer her to Chatham-Kent Hospice and we were fortunate enough to get a bed the following day.
When we got to Hospice it felt as if a bit of light was coming through after the traumatic last three weeks. After a steep decline Joan perked up a bit and was notably settled.
Our whole family was greeted kindly, and mom was moved into a comfortable bed with fluffy blankets and soft pillowcases. We were not rushed around or pushed aside.
They knew she was going to die, but that didn’t make her less important than other patients. Her medical care, comfort and wellbeing in her last days became important not just to us anymore but to the staff at Hospice.
I felt for the first time in three weeks of terror, I was no longer my mom’s note taker, caregiver, personal assistant; I was her daughter.
Hospice gave Mom’s close family and friends the opportunity to come say goodbye to her without pushing my brother and me out. We were able to stay close by in the family room or courtyard and have a bite to eat, try to relax, or have a necessary cry without “being in the way”.
I slept every night beside my mom on a pull-out bed or comfy recliner. I was treated like I should be there.
The hospice staff took incredible care of her and knew that in order to make her comfortable and able to rest “her people” needed to be close, so they welcomed us as an extension of her.
Joan’s short journey from the time she was diagnosed with cancer to death was 26 days. She didn’t get a chance to go on any adventures, soak in some fun or take beautiful family photos.
But Hospice allowed us a safe space to tell her we loved her and made her comfortable. It changed the ending of this short battle to one of peace instead of chaos. Hospice helped provide us with some closure during a tragic time.
My mom’s passions were being a mother and her community. Since her passing I have become a mother myself and have become involved in the community as a Family Advisor with the Chatham-Kent Hospice. I sit on the Quality Committee and give advice from our experience there to try to ensure that Hospice stays an amazing resource for the community. I offer family insight to various ideas and challenges the Hospice faces.
My goal is to continue to keep my mom, Joan’s, legacy alive forever.
Shared in loving memory of Joan by her daughter, Nicole.