A patient I have been working with passed away recently. She was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and could not tolerate the treatment, so she was put on hospice and passed away four months after her diagnosis. She died on September 20th. Reflecting on how things went, I thought I would use this post to express some thoughts, as losing a patient is hard.
Over the months I worked with my patient and her family, I got to know them well. I gained their trust, and they knew they could call me about anything. They all knew I was in place for them. My patient was an interesting woman. She fought till the end. We had several conversations about death. She knew she was dying and was prepared, but she did not want to let go. Those talks were hard, but I am glad I had the opportunity to have them with her as they made me realize how complicated cancer and end-of-life issues are. Our work is not easy – but it is rewarding, and we do make a difference in the lives of those we have the honor to care for.
Her family was very supportive and helped her in so many ways. I also talked with her sister and aunt, the primary caretakers often. We talked about what they were going through and how hard it was to be a caregiver, and I tried to help them understand the complex healthcare system and why it worked the way it did. In many ways, we are sounding boards. Those conversations help us realize what we must do and provide us with the tools to improve our little part of the healthcare system.
The Hospice Team involved was supportive and tried their best to meet the patient’s and the family’s needs. I called many members of the team often. At first, they did not know who I was or why I was involved, but over time, they understood as they saw I was trying to help them do their work and set realistic expectations.
I was honored to be part of my patient and her family’s journey.
Thanks for reading and allowing me to share this story. It helps to put my thoughts down on paper.
Have a good week!