By Beverly Medlyn
Carolyn and Albert, a Gilbert couple married 43 years, traversed the long, hard road of brain cancer following her diagnosis in January 2017. First surgery, then radiation, then chemo. But the tumor came back.
The oncologist suggested more treatment to extend life a few months, but Carolyn’s quality of life had deteriorated so much that neither she nor Albert saw the sense in that.
“Then I guess you guys have to do hospice,” Albert recalled the doctor telling them. “That was it. No guidance, no nothing.”
Not long after, Carolyn fell out of her recliner in the middle of the night. It took Albert two or three hours to get her up. Hospice of the Valley’s television commercial came to mind. He was a little reluctant, but feeling desperate.
“I was under the illusion that when you call hospice, you are getting ready to die. Most people think you’ll be dead in a week,” Albert said. “But I had to do something. I could not do this by myself any longer. I looked it up on the computer and found a Hospice of the Valley here in Gilbert. I decided to go over there in person. Best to handle these things face-to-face. When you call on the phone, people just put you off.”
It was a Saturday morning. When Albert arrived at Hospice of the Valley’s East Clinical Office, it was closed. But an HOV staff member happened to be in the vicinity, and directed Albert to HOV’s Lund Home next door. “They’ll help you,” the staff member said.
And they did. Within a few hours, a nurse was in the couple’s home to admit Carolyn. A hospital bed, portable toilet, shower chair and wheelchair were ordered. The nurse told Albert what to do if Carolyn fell again (call the fire department for a non-emergency help lift) – which was news to him. Medications were ordered. A steroid that had previously been prescribed for brain swelling was given and had an almost instantaneous effect. “Within 24 hours, my wife got better. She could walk around,” he said. A certified nursing assistant started coming to the house to help with bathing and personal care. A volunteer relieves Albert so he can run errands.
“You guys do a good job getting the right people in the right place,” Albert said. “It is so refreshing in today’s climate to find professionals doing a professional job. It used to be like that years ago, but you just don’t see it very often anymore. You do great work!”