Rochelle Smith

The Healing Powers of Music Therapy

Posted by | News | No Comments

Published March 15, 2018
Chronicle Herald

It took over two months, but I finally listened to the CD my sister Paula made for me. I laughed and cried as she talked about the good and not so good times in our lives and her hopes. Her funny personality and wisdom shone through with her inspirational message. On New Year’s Eve, Paula was finally at peace after a five-year struggle with ovarian cancer. She was 48. I’ll always treasure the opportunity to hear her voice, though she’s no longer with us.

The CD was one of a number of projects she worked on in the last few months of her life. In April 2017, Paula was told her cancer was back; she had three to nine months to live. During one of her stays at An Calla, the palliative care unit at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, Paula had the good fortune to meet music therapist Jill Murphy who works for the hospice. Paula was a bit skeptical at first when Jill talked to her about participating in music therapy, but it didn’t take long for Jill to convince her.

The year before, Paula had participated in the Art of Living and the Art of Medicine programs at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. She worked with wildlife photographer Kris Tynski to develop a photography project to talk about living with cancer. This project turned into a life-changing interest in photography for Paula.

Paula began to look forward to working with Jill. Initially, we weren’t sure what those projects were, but it gave Paula a new sense of purpose. Jill wrote a song for Paula, based on one of her photos. Paula loved it. Jill became a friend that Paula wished she’d had more time to spend with. Jill graciously played that song at Paula’s celebration of life.

Through the music therapy program, Paula made a number of CDs for family and friends which highlighted her humour, wisdom, photography and favourite music. The opportunity to create these legacy pieces for her loved ones brought peace to Paula. It was her chance to tell people what they meant to her. The CDs were sent out after Paula’s passing. While some people played their CDs right away, some of us waited until we felt the time was right. We want to thank Jill Murphy and the music therapy program for giving us such a special tribute from Paula.

March is Music Therapy Month across Canada. This is an amazing program that can help so many people. I am so grateful my sister had the opportunity to participate in it.

Helen Graham, Sydney, sister of Paula Graham

Rotary RibFest Cheque Presentation to Hospice Society

Posted by | News, Uncategorized | No Comments

On Monday, February 26th, the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County was presented with a cheque of $209,000. This cheque was the total amount raised at the gate over the last three years at Sydney’s RibFest, an event that is organized by the Rotary Clubs of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

RibFest not only raised a significant amount of money for the Society and the patients and families that it supports, it also created the opportunity for Hospice to  engage and expand the level of understanding of it’s role within it’s community.

The Society is forever grateful for this contribution. A special thanks extends to the supporters, volunteers, and donors that came together to make the event such a tremendous success.



Sydney RibFest to benefit Caleb’s Courage, Cancer Patient Care Fund

Posted by | News | No Comments

SYDNEY, N.S. — If there’s one thing better than a pile of mouth-watering ribs, it’s the knowledge that chowing down on the tasty, barbequed cuts of meat will help others.

On Monday, organizers of the annual Sydney RibFest announced a new charity of choice to benefit from the incredibly popular food festival that last year attracted more than 35,000 people over its three-day, mid-July run at Open Hearth Park.

After partnering with the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton over the past three years, the Rotary Club fundraiser will this year work with the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation, which in turn will direct the event’s charitable proceeds to Caleb’s Courage and the Cancer Patient Care Fund.

That’s great news for the new recipients as the hospice society just received a cheque for more than $209,000, the amount raised for charity over the first three editions of the Sydney Ribfest that was first held in 2015.

Society executive director Aurelle Landry, who was among a crowd of about 70 people that attended the 2018 RibFest launch at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre on Monday, called the financial gift “extraordinary” and acknowledged it was the largest single donation the society has ever received.

“RibFest not only raised a significant amount of money for our society and the patients and families we support, but it also created the opportunity for us to engage and expand the level of understanding of hospice palliative care and the society’s role in our community,” said Landry, who added that the society presently cares for hundreds of patients with life-limiting illnesses.

“Unfortunately, the need is growing, but for those who need it there is comfort and care available — this year we celebrate 10 years since the An Cala (palliative care) unit in the regional hospital opened its doors.”

The event’s new charities of choice — Caleb’s Courage and the Cancer Patient Care Fund – were unveiled by hospital foundation CEO Brad Jacobs, who said both causes were near and dear to the hearts of everyone involved with the foundation.

“After losing their son to neuroblastoma, Caleb’s parents, Mike and Nicole (MacArthur) set out on a mission to build a room at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital that would help support critically ill children and their families and I can say, that without question, one of the most impactful days I have had during my time here was (last) May 17th when I stood with the MacArthurs and watched that room open,” said Jacobs.

“They have created what I call a movement and not a fundraising project and they have raised more than $388,000.”

For their part, the MacAruthers, whose initiative brought the Caleb-inspired superhero room to fruition, said they were thrilled to learn that Caleb’s Courage is now part of RibFest.

“It’s a great event to be a part of,” said Nicole, who, with husband Mike, has four other children, including a set of twins. “We are honoured and overjoyed — we actually go to the event as a family every year, it’s a family-oriented event, and Caleb’s spirit is very much about families and raising money for families by families.”

Added Mike: “The fact that we have lived the journey means we understand the important work people are doing to help patients, particularly children — we’ve tried to take something that was a tragic event for us and make it into something positive, so this event (RibFest) is a perfect example of the community coming together to support others in the community.”

Meanwhile, it was also announced that, for the fourth consecutive year, the event’s “prime ribber” sponsor is Destination Membertou.

“For us, supporting events that reach into every community across Cape Breton and to bring people together for a worthy cause is a pleasure, so yes, we will back this up, yes, we will be the prime ‘ribber’ and yes, we will eat most of the ribs,” said Chief Terry Paul, whose final comment drew a huge collective laugh from the crowd.

This year’s RibFest, featuring food, live music and family fun, will take place July 13-15 and will once again be held in Open Hearth Park.


WHAT: Fourth Annual Sydney RibFest

WHEN: July 13-15, 2018

WHERE: Open Hearth Park, Sydney

WHO: Organized by the Rotary Clubs of the CBRM; presenting sponsor is Destination Membertou

WHY: Food festival to raise funds for Caleb’s Courage and Cancer Patients Care Fund; previous three RibFests raised more than $209,000 for the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton

CO-CHAIRS: John Malcom and Everett Reid


-David Jala, Cape Breton Post

Sunflower Treasures 2

Posted by | News | No Comments
The terrific selection of pre-loved items at great prices created a wonderful weekend of sales for the Hospice Residence project. Hundreds of shoppers stopped by to purchase donor contributions of vintage jewellery, purses and accessories, china, pottery, decor and entertainment items, table linens, fabrics, yarn, quilting and sewing supplies, collectibles, art work, wall hangings, mirrors, books, games, dvds and special interest magazines.
The three day shop, organized for the second time by a group of hard working, good humored, dedicated volunteers involved sorting, cleaning, polishing, organizing, displaying and selling reaped $20,000 in sales! The team of 65 volunteers under the leadership of Cheryl Read and her  dedicated “department managers”, welcomed our shoppers and did their very best to provide a pleasant shopping experience for everyone. On behalf of the Hospice Palliative Care Society Board, great thanks is extended to Cheryl, her team, our wonderful volunteers and all those who made purchases.  We are incredibly grateful for the support and most importantly, all contributions from donors to shoppers will be felt by the patients and families of those in the Palliative Care Service.

5th Annual Shake, Rattle and Roll for Hospice

Posted by | Events, Uncategorized | No Comments

The 5th Annual Shake, Rattle & Roll for Hospice is taking place on Saturday, April 29 at Centre 200, and this year’s theme is “Going to the Prom!”

And since “Going to the Prom!” can mean different looks for different people, we figured we’d help out by sharing a list of possible outfits to sport:

-The classic mullet and tuxedo combo (feel free to add a ruffled dress shirt or a colored tux if you really want to jazz things up)
-Feathered bangs, teased hair and a puffy-sleeved dress (note: you can use the leftover material from your mother’s living room drapes to achieve this look)
-A more modern prom look (this is also a great reason to dress-up and feel snazzy)
-Or simply wear your favourite shirt and a comfy part of kicks

As you can see, these are just a few of our suggestions, but please feel free to wear whatever you feel festive in (casual, semi-formal, or formal).

*All proceeds go towards the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County.

Ticket price is $50/person and tickets are on sale now.

You can purchase your ticket by phoning 902-567-8584, by emailing or by visiting the Hospice Cape Breton Office located on the 4th floor of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

Happy Holidays

Posted by | News | No Comments

Another Christmas Holiday season is upon us and as we reflect over the past year, the Board of the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County has so many reasons to be grateful. Grateful for the exceptional Palliative Care team, the doctors, the nurses, all the staff on An Cala and the home consult nurses, who deliver such professional, compassionate care to patients and their families. We are grateful for the energy and the goodwill of the many volunteers who help in so many different ways; grateful for the generosity of our community donors.

2016 has been a year of many successes including the expanding community interest and support in the quest to establish a hospice residence. Events and projects, both established and new, are highlighted in this newsletter and demonstrate the mission and work of the society in hospital and in home. We are grateful to Membertou Band Council and BCA Group for their unique collaborative model that is an exceptional community partnership and driving the hospice residence dream forward to reality.


Every New Year brings new opportunities. The Society is committed to the construction of the hospice residence in 2017. As a board, we will vigorously lobby the Nova Scotia Health Authority and Government for a formal announcement to provide operational costs. We will be launching a fund raising campaign “Strengthening Circles of Care” to meet financial goals that will furnish and equip the hospice residence, create a courtyard garden and establish an endowment fund to address future needs.

On behalf of the Society’s board we wish you and yours a Happy Holiday season and a
New Year of Peace and Happiness.

Patricia Jackson & Nancy Dingwall