Home » News » Choosing Quality of Life at the End of Life
Choosing Quality of Life at the End of Life
Posted on January 22nd, 2020
When you first meet Rick, right away you notice
both his uplifting and commanding nature. Born in Mount Vernon, Rick is an
alumni of Lincoln Elementary and the University of Washington. The life he has
led with his wife Sheila has been worldly and passionate. Rick served in the
Army from 1958-1988, retiring as a colonel. After his military career, he and
his wife lived on a sailboat all over the Mediterranean Sea for nearly 10 years
before returning home to Burlington.
The lung cancer Rick has been diagnosed with is
a result for Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. During his 2 ½ years of combat
as an airborne ranger, Rick’s plane was shot down. While he was lucky to
survive, he required extensive hospitalization but made a near-full recovery.
The cancer caused by Agent Orange is particularly troublesome for Rick because
it is not responsive to many of the treatments and medications currently
available. After his first round of chemotherapy and a week spent sick in the
hospital, Rick and his wife made the decision to stop curative treatment and come
“I didn’t want to spend half of the time for
the rest of my life sick from treatment that might only extend my life by three
months or so,” explains Rick. “I choose to savor time with my family and live
with a better quality of life at home.”
In his home, alongside art and photos of his
family, friends, and travels, he has a wheelchair, an oxygen tank along with a
portable one for when he leaves the house, a special bed to help prop him up
while sleeping, and more. But it’s not the special equipment that has made the
biggest impact on Rick.
“Hospice has brought sleep back into my home. I can breathe well again, and they have brought me comfort. Hospice brought the right people here to help.”
One of Rick’s favorite times is when his HNW
massage therapist, Tiana, comes to visit. During their appointments, he is able
to find relaxation and relief with his muscles and previous injuries. They talk
about life and have developed a strong bond. “I always look forward to our visits.
I sleep so well for the next couple nights after she comes.” Rick is grateful
to the donors, whose generosity enables complementary therapists to visit
hospice patients. Complementary therapies reduce anxiety as well as bring comfort
and relief to patients without using any medication.
Rick was previously a volunteer with Hospice of
the Northwest for 6 years, so he was familiar with the patient and family-centered
approach of the hospice care team. “I wanted to give back and be there for
those in need. It was truly one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my
life.” For years, Rick provided help and companionship to hospice patients. Now,
he is receiving that same level of expert care and compassion. When asked about
his own care team, he responds, “I haven’t needed a volunteer, yet. But I know
that when I do, we will be supported by someone special.” Hospice of the
Northwest volunteers are extensively trained and well-supported, thanks to the
generosity of donors.
When thinking ahead for yourself and your loved
ones, consider quality of life at the end of life. Hospice provides a full
network of support by the care team that includes a doctor, nurse, social
worker, spiritual counselor, care aide, complementary therapists, and
volunteers who are there to help.
Donors are also an essential part of providing hospice
care. Donors help patients to meet their goals by provide for special needs,
equipment, and atypical treatments. Donors support continuing education for
staff and free grief counseling, available to anyone in the community. Donors
improve the lives of hospice patients and their loved ones.
To choose quality of
life at the end of life, talk to you doctor about
hospice care and discuss your advance care plans early.
About Hospice of the Northwest
We are a skilled, caring, and compassionate team of doctors, nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, aides, volunteers and generous community donors.
Together we provide patient-centered care for people facing serious illness. We’ve been serving the residents of Island, San Juan, Skagit and Snohomish Counties since 1989 and want to know how we can support you or your loved one.