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Journeying together: The comfort and compassion of a hospice care team

Three women walking through field on a sunny day

"I didn't want to end my life suffering like that," said Toni, a patient living with end-stage kidney cancer. After her diagnosis, she pursued conventional treatments, including radiation. But the cancer kept coming back, stronger each time and the pain had become unbearable. Toni could no longer sit or walk and had been in and out of the hospital. Her doctor told her there was nothing else they could do.

An intelligent and fiercely independent woman, Toni now faced a daunting question she didn't know how to answer: "Who will take care of me?" She lived alone, with no family or support system to rely on, but she didn't want to live the rest of her life alone and in pain. In a moment of uncertainty, a friend suggested she reach out to Hospice of the Northwest. That's when Toni made a life-changing phone call.

"The woman on the other end of the line was so kind and easy to talk to," Toni recalled. From the beginning, her hospice experience was one of comfort and compassion. "It's so different than traditional medicine," said Toni. Instead of treating the cancer, hospice treated her as a whole person—focusing on her physical comfort, as well 
as her emotional, social and spiritual well-being. 

Every hospice patient is assigned a dedicated care team that includes a medical provider, nurse, social worker and spiritual counselor. Together, they create a personalized care plan tailored to meet the patient's specific needs and goals. For Toni, pain relief and clarity of mind were most important. She wanted to remain fully present as she neared the end of her life. 

To help her achieve this, three new members were added to Toni's care team: a massage therapist to relieve pain and swelling in her legs, a hospice aide to help with personal care and a volunteer who visited Toni every week for conversation and companionship.

Toni's initial fears about being alone quickly disappeared. "I am cared for totally. I have a whole team of people who have my back," Toni said with gratitude.

The hospice care team's holistic approach made a remarkable difference in Toni's life. Her pain subsided and she could now sit and walk comfortably. She even started doing things she loved again, like gardening, attending the fire department's auxiliary meetings and having friends visit. She also celebrated her 80th birthday, a milestone she didn't expect to reach.

As she reflected on her experience with hospice care, Toni smiled and said, "I have a very good life. None of this would be possible without Hospice of the Northwest."

Toni's story highlights the transformative power of hospice care. With the compassionate support of her care team, Toni's quality of life improved significantly. To her, the members of her care team weren't just professionals providing end-of-life care. "I feel like they're friends. They're family," Toni explained. "They've been such a gift." 

If you have questions or want more information about how hospice can help you or someone you love, visit or call 360-814-5550.