When 71-year-old Garry Lefebvre’s cancer prognosis became terminal, his family had limited knowledge of what palliative care could offer, but they knew what they needed.
“It was a very difficult time, but having the support of your family was really important to us,” says Sandy Lefebvre, Garry’s wife of over 48 years.
The Lefebvre family is large, Garry was an Edmonton Eskimos Alumnus and he was an elder in his church, so in his final weeks he was surrounded by a lot of love and support. Foyer Lacombe, St. Albert’s new hospice, offered the perfect layout and was located in their community.
“I think I counted at one time there were 38 of us. We never felt at any time we were ever too much. It was just welcoming," says Jules Lefebvre, Garry’s daughter.
Sandy agrees: “It was great to know we could spend the night here, and not just me—sometimes four of us. They would just keep bringing us more mattresses.”
Tina Hostin is the nurse in charge of the hospice unit. What the Lefebvre family experienced is what she hopes all families can experience. Palliative care is about journeying with the entire family—meeting everyone’s needs.
“We really try hard to manage a patient’s symptoms; we look at the quality of life for patients and families and try to do the best we can to make it as peaceful as possible.”
“They treated Dad with such dignity and such respect. Even
the last week or so, where he was heavily sedated or not responsive and was not
communicating in any way, anytime staff came into the room they always addressed
him by name and they told him what they were doing, what they were looking at.
I was very appreciative of that,” says Jules.
Though their hearts are still heavy with grief, both Jules and Sandy feel Garry had everything he needed at the end of his life, which gives them peace.
“It was a spiritual time for all of us to be praying and singing, to be ushering him into the next life; yes, it was good,” says Sandy. “He knew he was going to heaven and he was looking forward to it, and we are looking forward to seeing him again.”
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