As I walked down the corridors of Highway Hospice on my way to meet the patient, something caught my attention immediately. I noticed fresh bouquet of flowers placed at the entrance of each room where patients stayed. This was not just any flowers but yellow roses. Yellow roses symbolizes joy, gladness and promise of new beginnings. This was so encouraging because if this is what Highway Hospice represents, it gives many others hope.
As I entered the room, I saw a young man lying on the bed, flickering through the channels of his television and having a good laugh. “”Are you John?” I asked and with a smile he replied: “yes, that’s me, I have been expecting you”. He was vibrant, had a warm smile and seemed that he was as fit as a fiddle. But this was not the case.
In June 2015, John was diagnosed with adrenal cancer which is a non-operative cancer and is currently at stage 4. No chemotherapy, radiation or treatment can cure this illness. Adrenal Cancer is a condition that occurs when abnormal cells form in or travel to the adrenal glands. Your body has two adrenal glands, one located above each kidney. Adrenal cancer usually occurs in the outermost layer of the glands, or the adrenal cortex. It usually appears as a tumor. Although there is no cure – he remains positive and lives each day as it comes.
He remembers how it all started. After going to the bathroom and urinating blood, John immediately knew that something was wrong. Initially he thought that the spleen had gone faulty but after he consulted with his GP, it was recommended that he went for further tests. After ultrasound, x-rays and a biopsy test, cancer was detected. He felt disappointed and shocked as he had just beaten cancer at the age of 11 when he had a tumor on his brain. This time there was no overcoming this cancer.
John’s association with Highway Hospice comes before his illness. His uncle was diagnosed with motor neuron disease and at the time John was a care giver at the hospice. After the death of his uncle, he continued getting involved with hospice, particularly with the day care centre. The day care centre meets once a week and provides an opportunity for patients to come together and learn different skills and to also act as an support group where many of them share their experiences living with illnesses and day to day challenges. “I really enjoy being part of this group and regard them as my family” he said.
When I asked John what hospice meant to him, he responded:
“People here are friendly, very helpful and the service is of high class. This is much better than a private hospital in my opinion. I do have bad days at times but knowing that there are so many people who have so much compassion for all their patients – I have peace of mind. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else.