If you have a loved one with a terminal illness with little time to live the last thing you want to do is spend those remaining days in the hospital. That's where home hospice care can play a crucial role. Nancy Naeve Brown has the emotional story about a family who is grateful for the care they got from the Avera Hospice Team in Mitchell.
David Olson from Artesian was only 28 when he died from cancer in 2006. His mom Joyce says he died as he lived; bravely. He served his country in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Specialist in the Army as a helicopter crew chief and was stationed in Germany when he came home on leave in October of 2005 to go hunting, one of his many passions. He found out during his trip home to South Dakota the reason he hadn't been feeling well was because of a tumor on his adrenal gland on his kidney.
"He just couldn't eat cause it had grown to the size of a football by the time he was diagnosed," him mom Joyce said.
After two rounds of chemo they were heart broken to learn Dave's rare and aggressive cancer was also untreatable.
"They put him on pain control and got him on a pain pump and on February 6th and we took him home on hospice. It was obvious we weren't going to have a cure," Joyce said.
Registered Nurse Diane Nesheim is the Clinical Coordinator for Avera Hospice Mitchell. They use a team approach in helping patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness with only 6 month to live stay in their own home.
"Dying is a part of living and it's something we are all going to have to face at some point and if we can teach the family and patient how to go through this process in their own home and be able to manage the symptoms (the better off they'll be), " Diane Nesheim said.
"The best thing about hospice, he got to be at home where he was comfortable with his family. He got to finish up projects he wanted to do. Everyone one of his classmates either came to see him or he talked to them on the phone," Joyce said.
Besides having hospice nurses and aids in the house to care for David, social workers and chaplains were also integral in the process for the entire Olson family.
"The thing with hospice you talk about a lot of things you never thing you are going to talk about with your child. Like who the pallbearers are going to be, things like that, "Joyce said.
Three weeks after David started in-home hospice care he died at home with his family around him.
I asked Joyce what she wanted people to know about her son. "He was really strong and really brave. He worried more about how this was affecting his family than it was affecting him. If we can all be half as brave as him we would be amazing," Joyce said.
Joyce will tell you it's not easy to be talk about losing a child, but she is putting on a brave face for her son and because she wants others to know how much hospice helped them in the darkest of days. It's one of the many lessons she learned from David look for the GOOD in the bad, occupy your mind-it helps you ignore the icky stuff and hug the ones you love.
The Avera Queen of Peace Foundation is holding its 17th annual "Roses... Just Because" Fundraiser to benefit in-home hospice care for families who need help paying for it. You can buy a dozen roses through the end of March for $20. You pick them up in Sioux Falls and Mitchell.
For more information go to:
or call Tracy Pardy, Avera Queen of Peace Foundation Director 605.995.5773.