When my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he viewed it as a Call to War. With single minded determination and his unwavering sense of humor, he was certain he could he could beat the disease. His strategy was to be blasted by as many chemical combinations of chemotherapy as his oncologist could create. He cheerfully reported that things were fine at home (they weren’t; they were brutal, and gruesome, and frightening); nevertheless, week after week, he valiantly requested “More! Hit me with as much as you’ve got; let’s get rid of this thing!”
I watched in agony as he suffered. I learned take care of him in ways I could never have imagined, but I felt helpless as I watched him, once fabulously healthy, disappear into a fragile ghost of a man. By the time we reached the ninth month, his body began to show us, it was time to stop the chemotherapy. It was exactly at that time that my yoga instructor invited me to talk to her about hospice; she is a volunteer. My uneducated view of hospice was people who crowd around a dying person and take care of the details. I didn’t have a clue. But her kind eyes and gentle demeanor awakened something in me; I made the call.
When hospice stepped in, a new reality was explained to us in beautiful simplicity; it resonated truth, bathed in kindness: When there is no cure, there is comfort. I’d never heard of palliative care nor was I prepared for the Specialty Service of Heart Touch that my husband was offered.
Christine, our Heart Touch volunteer explained that Heart Touch a laying of hands on critically ill or medically fragile patients. After my husband’s his first session, I could see that his spirit had been lifted! For that hour, there was a different kind of comfort: he remembered how to relax. And in hindsight, I will say that perhaps it was practice … for the art of letting go. For both of us.
A few years have passed now. Those experiences changed the course of my life. I’ve set myself on a journey of becoming a Certified Senior Advisor and Patient Advocate. And I’ve honored my husband by completing my own Heart Touch training last year.
I have learned the art of “just being” at the bedside. When there is no more sight, and no more speech, there is still touch. My hands have become the language of my heart. I found myself with a calling now, to serve, to volunteer, to help patients and their families find comfort and understanding, and peace. I am forever grateful to Heart Touch for this gentle and meaningful training.