Thursday late morning Cassie said “see ya later” to the staff while the ambulance crew wheeled her to the elevator. Cassie smiled, the nurses returned the smiles amongst tears, we even snapped a quick group picture. Cass had written on one of the hospital’s white boards earlier that week, “Don’t be afraid, just believe. Mark 5:36.” She pointed to it as she rolled past. I tried to smile, but like a zombie, I slowly followed the gurney. Chris and the kids stayed back with our social worker Kathleen. She spent some time discussing the emotional side of hospice and the idea of “dumping circles”. She wanted to make it very clear to us that Cass was at the center of the circle, the rest of the Hines 5 were in the next circle, followed by Ashley’s almost fiancé, Jeff, along with the rest of our immediate family and close friends. The final circle was “everyone else”. Only support goes “in” and fear, whining, complaining etc. is dumped “out”. This simple concept was how we were to control what was about to happen at our house for what would be the next 40 days. Kathleen made it very clear that it is our job to protect each other.
It was a quiet Saturday afternoon, our social worker was stopping by to see how we were all holding up, or so I thought. You see, our daughter Cassie had just had surgery to remove a large tumor on her spine, which was causing severe leg pain. Cassie had been a kidney cancer patient for the last four years so we were all pretty used to the scan, surgery, recovery life of a chronic cancer patient. Her last set of scans revealed several tumors on her spine so Cassie had decided to remove the largest of the tumors, causing leg pain, and join a trial to hopefully shrink the rest. The problem was, before she could join a trial, the pain and numbness in her arms was getting worse. The remaining tumors were growing fast.
by Jennifer M.L. Stephens, RN, MA, PhD(c), RN, OCN
The workshop on physician-assisted suicide (PAD) at the October 2015 Canadian Association of Oncology Nurses (CANO/ACIO) drew enough oncology nurses to fill the room far beyond capacity. Following the 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter v. Canada to allow PAD, professional nursing organizations including CANO/ACIO, the Canadian Nursing Association (CNA), provincial licensing bodies, and health care employers are scrambling to interpret what PAD means to Canadian nursing and nurses.
by Paul Wheatley-Price BSc, MBChB, MRCP (UK), MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Division of Medical Oncology, Chair of Medical Advisory Committee, Lung Cancer Canada
One of the hardest discussions between an oncologist and their patient occurs at the time of transition from active anti-cancer therapy to best supportive care alone. This consultation has been reported as one of the most stressful faced by the physician, and of course is a nodal event for the patient. It is also clear that patients want their physicians to be honest, up to date and compassionate in these meetings.