“It was a comfort to know that any time you were only a phone call away. If we needed answers you gave them, meds you supplied them, help and a shoulder to cry on you gave it. But most of all you gave us your love and support. With  every visit we felt that love in your heart and saw only kindness in your eyes.”

“You made our journey a little easier even though it was the hardest time of our lives.”

“Thank you for taking such great care of our loved one… you became a part of our family – you laughed with us, but you also cried with us, encouraged us and always mus us feel comfortable.”

“(Your staff) lovingly explained (nana’s condition) and tenderly answered our questions, unhurriedly”

“I will never forget the kind, wonderful care which my mother received from the tender hearts, thoughtful minds, and gentle hands of the staff during the time she was a hospice patient.”

Shepherd’s Cove Hospice is dedicated to providing quality of life to those we serve. That quality of life includes the hope of comfort and compassionate care. Hope that even though someone is nearing the end of their life on this earth, they and their families can be confident that they will not have to walk that journey alone, frightened or in pain.

Heather & Jason

Heather & Jason
Heather & Jason

Jason, a 31 year old husband and father of two small children, was recently cared for by Shepherd’s Cove Hospice in his home and then at Shepherd’s Cove. While a guest at Shepherd’s Cove, he and his wife, Heather, celebrated their wedding anniversary. In honor of their anniversary, they had planned to visit a nearby resort area, but Jason’s disease progression prohibited that trip. Hope sprang forth in the staff of Shepherd’s Cove Hospice as they planned a romantic, candlelight dinner for two complete with music and flowers to help this young couple celebrate in his guest room at Shepherd’s Cove. This young family was able to experience the hope hospice offers in one of the most difficult times of their lives.

Heather shared this in a letter to the staff of Shepherd’s Cove Hospice.

“There are things in life we will never understand, and losing Jason will forever be one, but through this tragedy came beauty- through the relationships created with the staff of this incredible facility. The doctor, nurses, aids, receptionists, cooks, housekeeping, social workers, CEO – EVERYONE cared, cried, laughed- they walked through the darkest time of my life with me- and they did so willingly. These people are permanently etched in my heart- never to be forgotten or replaced. Thank you for making the unbearable bearable; the ugly beautiful and the light in the darkest of times. You all are my heroes – I am so bless to call you friends.”

Somewhere Over the Rainbow….
There’s Hope!

Hope. That’s the message of rainbows. And that’s the message of cancer treatment and of hospice care. Renay Bullard from Arab knows this from personal experience. Hope of a cure; then the hope of comfort.

rainbowYears ago when her mother, Delma Louise Stidham, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Renay remembers feeling an overwhelming sadness and helplessness because she didn’t know how to help her. At first Renay tried to deny the reality of the “C” word, but the ensuing surgery and chemotherapy that her mother soon experienced would not allow her to deny the reality for long.

Hope… Research and new technologies made new treatments possible that have made victory over this cancer possible. Mrs. Stidham lived for only 3 years after her diagnosis of ovarian cancer, but before these newer treatments were developed, even these 3 years would have been taken from her by this frightening disease. With treatment, the disease finally regressed, but never fully went into remission.

Hope… When the disease became active again and it was clear that there were no other treatments available that would cure the disease, Renay’s family turned to the hope that hospice care provides. Renay is the first to admit that she resisted hospice care at first because it seemed to her that by calling in hospice, she was admitting that she was giving up on her mother. What she realized soon after hospice came into her parents home, was that calling in hospice is not giving up hope, it is giving in to hope. It’s giving in to hope that the days left on this earth can be lived out in comfort.

Renay and Delma
Renay and Delma

A fiercely independent woman, her mother didn’t allow the hospice aides to bathe her or help with her personal care. But, she was not pressured to let hospice take over, they were there for what ever support Mrs. Stidham and her family needed. Literature supplied by hospice helped Renay and her entire family understand the journey they were walking and helped them anticipate what the future days would hold. Being the experts in pain and symptom control, the hospice team was able to manage the pain and nausea that her mom experienced. As Renay looked back on the experience, she realized how much of a comfort hospice care was to her Dad.

Hope… It was hospice care and her realization that end-of-life care is an important part of life that influenced Renay to become a volunteer with Shepherd’s Cove Hospice. As a hospice volunteer, her activities include sitting with patients, delivering items to the home and helping with community activities to raise awareness of hospice care. Renay states, “Shepherd’s Cove Hospice does so much for someone in this position. I could never express the many positive and wonderful gifts of love, time and sacrifice they offer to a person and their loved ones while facing one of the hardest things in their life.”

A busy wife and mother, Renay has taken a short “retirement” from volunteering with Shepherd’s Cove Hospice as she is continuing her education to become a registered nurse. She cites her experience with Shepherd’s Cove Hospice as inspiration for this choice of career, stating that she wants to help those that are sick or dying to live out their lives as comfortable and fully as possible, surrounded by people and things that they love.

Hope. Renay also has some advice to others who have been given a diagnosis of cancer, “I would encourage everyone to get their yearly exams, and ASK for the blood tests that have been developed to detect cancer. If you have a mother who has had a diagnosis of ovarian or breast cancer, ask your doctor about genetic testing. Most insurance companies will pay for the testing if you have a strong family history of the disease. Also, be very observant about your bodies, and any changes you notice, no matter how small. Above all, talk to your doctor. New treatments and medications are being researched every day to battle this horrible disease.” She adds, “And what ever you do, do not hesitate to find out all about the resources in the community and do not hesitate to call on Shepherd’s Cove Hospice to help you live in comfort and peace. It will be one of the most valuable phone calls that you will ever make. I wish we had called hospice sooner about mother’s care.”

Hope… Yes, somewhere over the rainbow, there’s hope; for cure-for comfort!

Not Just Another Hospice Patient Story- A Warning!

“I was born poor, in the country of Dekalb County.” These are words Cale Nagel (name changed) sat calmly and stated to the Hospice nurse in front of him. As he spoke he held a “hand-held” voice box vibrator to his throat. The mechanical sound that emitted from the voice box vibrator is the only “voice” he has now. Cale was diagnosed in April, 2009 with laryngeal cancer and in December, 2009 had his voice box removed. These days, he knows even more than ever before how the choices we make in our lives impact the course of our lives. He shares his life and the lessons he has learned with anyone who will listen in hopes that he can make an impact and to maybe change someone else’s mind about the choices they are making.

At the young age of 13 or 14 he “first laid eyes” on his wife, Fran (name changed). They have now been married for 53 years. Cale said, “I seen her at church and I knew right then she would be my wife. Then when I was 16 years old I got my Dad’s old truck and a friend of mine had a date with Fran and I had a date with another girl but I told my friend that Fran was mine. We all went to the movies and even though I had another date and my friend was with Fran I still had my eye on her and I let my friend know that he was not going to be dating her anymore that I was and that I was going to marry her.”

Cale further explained that she lived down a dirt road and that he would wait at the end of that dirt road and approach any young man that would come to date her and run them off. He laughs and states, “I was not a nice person, I was kind of the black sheep and her Mother didn’t want her to be with me.”

Obviously the choices he made to pursue this lovely girl paid off as Cale won her heart and married his beautiful bride in 1957. They were blessed with two sons.

He worked in construction and traveled all over the country until his wife put her foot down and told him after their sons were born that wherever the boys started to school was where they were going to finish school. Another choice. They bought an “ole shack” and 5 acres of land at Kilpatrick and then later built a home on this small farm. Fran began to work at a local textile manufacturing plant and Cale continued in construction work. After their sons graduated high school they sold their little farm and moved to Albertville where they went into business for themselves as commercial general contractors. Fran was the office manager and secretary of this successful family business.

As they neared retirement, instead of living the retirement years quietly at home, they made the choice to travel. They sold all of their equipment and traded for a used motor home which they later traded up to an Allegra bus. Their plans were to travel across the country. Those plans were cut short when Cale began to have symptoms of what he described as a “real bad sore throat”. In April, 2009 he was diagnosed with supraglotic (above the vocal cords) cancer and began treatments. Later that year, he had his voice box removed and continued with treatments. Tests soon revealed the cancer was still growing and the treatments were no longer working. Now Nagel and his family had another choice. This time he made an active decision of quality over quantity. He truly believes that was the decision that has kept him alive to this day. Cale became a Shepherd’s Cove Hospice patient and readily acknowledges that his time is on this earth is very limited. This is more apparent to both him and his family with every new day that comes their way. He was eager to share his life story with one of his health care providers.

When the Shepherd’s Cove Hospice nurse sat before Cale and his wife, Fran, and read the composed article tears begin to flow and he said, “Two things, take out the ‘Mr. and the Nagel, I am just Cale’. The following day he contacted the nurse and said, “There is a paragraph I need to add. I must warn others about their choices they are making.” So in his own words this is what he wants everyone to hear. “I had planned to spend at least 75 years together with my wife. But, I am the one that cut our time short by SMOKING! No one made me smoke. When I started at a young age I was thinking that I looked big and smart. Now look what Big and Smart ‘smoking’ got me. I cut our time short! If you are a smoker, please STOP. Don’t start if you are not. Look, Look, what it has got me! DON’T SMOKE! Thanks, Cale.”

The Shepherd’s Cove Hospice staff help with families such as Cale’s one day at a time in dealing with their limited life expectancy. This assistance comes from an array of services such as medications to manage symptoms, to offering a listening ear, to sitting with the patient to give the family time to run errands, to finding constructive ways to provide and meet whatever needs that may arise, to granting last minute wishes and dreams and much more.

A glimpse into this dear couple’s life and the journey on which they now walk shows a picture of love and hope. Over the years, the Nagels made a choice to accept other “children” into their family as their own, and they now have four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Shepherd’s Cove Hospice also has made the choice to accept families and love on them in their final days as if they were their own family members.

Article composed by Ramona Rosser, RN, with Shepherd’s Cove Hospice