JourneyCare is proud to host Kimberly Paul, author of “Bridging the Gap” and podcast host of “Death by Design,” as she shares touching and humorous personal stories and life lessons she discovered while working at the bedside of hospice patients for nearly 20 years. Kimberly is traveling across the U.S. in an RV to educate communities, help people feel more comfortable talking about end of life, and empower individuals to reclaim death as a human experience and not a medical event. Get tickets at journeycare.org/livewell.
As I travel the country on my Live Well, Die Well tour, a road trip of 49 states in an RV, in an effort to reclaim death from the medical community as well as Washington D.C., I’ve encountered something interesting: People do not think individuals suffering from a serious illness are able to embrace living. Throughout our lives we forget that death is one single moment. And yes, even those facing a serious illness—that most likely will take their life—are living fully and have managed to be some of my greatest teachers of life. People are mostly not afraid of death; they are afraid of suffering prior to death.
Taveon Woodward, a very special boy in JourneyCare’s All About Kids pediatric program, just turned 9 and is living with rhabdoid pleuropulmonary blastoma – his third relapse since he was first diagnosed at 3 years old. At the start of this year, the doctors gave him the “all clear,” but by April they told him it was “back with a vengeance." This time, though, his only treatment option is palliative chemotherapy to treat his symptoms.
When Social Worker Jennifer Leahy Junas and I admitted Taveon, we knew his birthday was close and could be his last. We asked how he would like to celebrate this year, and he shared that he'd love to go roller skating. Oh boy! With that response my mind went a’whirling to my own childhood …
JourneyCare pet therapy volunteers bring a variety of trained, furry companions to visit patients in their homes, assisted-living and care facilities, and our Hospice CareCenters. They may also comfort campers at Camp Courage, JourneyCare’s bereavement camp for children ages 6-13, who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Twelve years ago, I was a patient at the Rehab Institute of Chicago (RIC). The day that I was transferred there was a low point for me as I’d hoped instead to be going home. As I settled into my new surroundings, I noticed a dog and its owner standing in the hallway outside of my room. Before I knew it, the dog was at my bedside, resting its head on the side of my bed and looking up at me with eyes of love. The dog was one of several therapy dogs assigned to work at RIC. To this day, that visit stands out as a turning point in my long recovery from major surgery and multiple strokes. As a life-long dog lover, I told myself that someday, when I had the time, I would train a therapy dog so we could bring the same peace and joy that I’d experienced to others.
As a music therapist for JourneyCare, I was making a music therapy visit when a nurse from our hospice team saw me and asked me to play for another patient who was very near end of life.
Susan was still fairly young, a 66 year old woman who had suffered from multiple sclerosis. When I entered the room, she was lying in bed, had slightly labored breathing, and did not respond when I greeted her or said her name. She had family surrounding her, two sisters and a brother-in-law, who all very kindly greeted me.
This year, the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants celebrateed its 42nd National Nursing Assistants Week in June – and JourneyCare honored the invaluable contributions made every day by our outstanding team of Certified Nursing Assistants!
Our spectacular team of CNAs create a community of caring for our patients, their families and fellow JourneyCare team members every single day!
At Sharing Our Journey, we are thrilled about JourneyCare’s upcoming Allstars of Project Runway fashion show on Saturday, June 29! This fashion-forward event will feature five designers from TV’s “Project Runway” unveiling their 2019 collections at Theater on the Lake in Chicago. Proceeds will benefit JourneyCare programs for patients living with serious illness.
To share more about this brand-new event, we chatted with former “Project Runway” contestant Peach Carr, who will feature her couture in this unique event and serves on its planning committee. Here’s her inside look at “Allstars of Project Runway”:
Losing a loved one is difficult for anyone. For children, grief is experienced differently and every child grieves in his or her own way. As an adult, you serve as a role model to the children and teenagers in your life. By encouraging them to express their feelings, you can help them build healthy coping skills through the grieving process and for the future.
Learn how you can help the children in your life through the grieving process with these helpful tips in mind:
As part of the We Honor Veterans partnership with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the Veterans Administration (VA), military veterans volunteer to visit JourneyCare hospice patients who are also veterans and have a special and meaningful bond that only those with military experience share.
Last year JourneyCare cared for nearly 1,200 veterans across our 10-county service area. Each veteran patient in our care has the opportunity to be honored by a JourneyCare hospice veteran volunteer. A brief but meaningful pinning ceremony is performed, and a certificate of honor is presented by a member of our Veteran Volunteer Advisory Council, which engages veteran-centric event planning, training and educational opportunities.
For the JourneyCare veteran volunteers and Veteran Volunteer Advisory Council members, the days, hours and minutes that lead up to a pinning ceremony for a veteran in hospice care invite contemplation.
Our hospice veteran volunteers chose to serve a cause greater than their selves. They saw their country threatened. They signed up to confront the threat. They felt some tug, they answered some call, and they said, "Let’s go." That spirit that says, “When my country is challenged, I will do my part to meet that challenge.”
On a recent Tuesday morning, Noreen, a JourneyCare volunteer at Pepper Family Hospice CareCenter, was sitting with a newly admitted hospice patient named Stephanie, to keep her company. Stephanie was a young mother in hospice care with four small children.
Stephanie expressed acceptance that she was very near the end of her life and shared her sadness that her children would forget what she looked like.
Stephanie told Noreen she had written cards and notes for her children, but she wished she could have professional photos taken so her children would have nice pictures to remember her.
Barb had been an active, independent and social woman who was now bedbound in the home where she raised her family.
At 94 years of age, she primarily depended on her adult son and hospice team for her care. Barb’s family was planning to move her from her home to a nursing facility, which brought on anxiety as well as feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Her hospice care team recommended art therapy to help elevate her mood. I was Barb’s art therapist.