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When Kristen Bach raised the idea of recording her father’s voice, one of the most popular and poignant projects of the Music Therapy Program was born. Thanks to the germ of this idea, Music Therapist Jill Murphy has helped individuals record their voice and place it in a teddy bear as a legacy for their families. Known as the build-a-bear program, Jill has helped to provide this cherished memento to about 15 families to date. The program is made possible through the equal support of the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County and the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation.

Murphy recalls the original request from Darryl Bach who thought Kristen’s idea was a great one, and wanted to surprise his two daughters, Kristen and Julia, with this precious gift. The voice box is placed in the bear’s hand and can record a ten-second message. “I usually counsel individuals to say the name of their loved one, to say I love you, and remind them I’ll always be with you,” says Murphy. She has noted the profound impact it has on those receiving the bear, and those who are giving it. “Many individuals wonder if loved ones will remember the sound of their voice, this helps to ensure they always have a reminder close at hand.”

This simple concept has provided comfort to a range of patients and families. A grandmother recorded a message for the granddaughter she would never meet. She told her “I’ll always be love you and be watching over you.” Murphy has also acquired a stethoscope as part of the program, and has recorded the heart beat of patients which can be interwoven with a favourite piece of music. The grandmother was able to hear the baby’s heartbeat and subsequently recorded her own so her grandchild would always have the sound of her grandmother’s love with her. And, the bears are for more than children. One individual recalls receiving a teddy bear from her brother when they were children, which remained with them through the years. It sparked the idea to provide another bear for her loved one, saying “you took such good care of the first one, here’s another for you to cherish.”

Jill makes a point of backing up the recordings, and holding on to them for safe keeping, so individuals don’t have to worry if something should happen to the bear’s voice box.

“Having the support of the Society really allows us to touch people’s lives in a profound way,” says Murphy. She still recalls the look of relief on the face of one patient when he learned there was no cost to create and provide the bear to his family members. “We work with some very brave people,” says Murphy. “This isn’t always an easy thing to do but allows families to treasure the voice of their loved one, for years to come.”

Darryl’s wife says the original idea came from her daughter. “Kristen discussed it with Darryl, but he had enlisted Jill’s help and surprised the girls, Sheena Bach says. “This is such a special treasure for them to have. I’m so happy it’s helping others too.”

Featured in Photo: Dad Darryl with daughters Kristen and Julia—and bears!

Rotary RibFest Cheque Presentation to Hospice Society

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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.



5th Annual Shake, Rattle and Roll for Hospice

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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 hospicesociety@nshealth.ca or by visiting the Hospice Cape Breton Office located on the 4th floor of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

Getting to Know Members of Our Palliative Care Team

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In honour of National Hospice Palliative Care Week (May 1-7), the Cape Breton Post is recognizing members of our local palliative care team in Getting to Know features throughout the month of May.

April 29: Features Laurie Mortimer who is clinical nurse lead for the palliative care program and has been involved with the Hospice Palliative Care Society for eight years. Click here to see article.

Sunflower Treasures – a Pop up Shop in support of Hospice Palliative Care – Donations Wanted

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Donations Wanted

Every household has its items that hold a place in our heart but no longer have a place in our home. They are the pre-loved possessions such as vintage jewellery, purses or accessories; china, pottery, distinctive décor items; books, pieces of art; needlework, fabric, yarn and other such articles that could be donated to a good cause for a good purpose. Your donations will become sales items for the three-day Sunflower Treasures Pop Up Shop.  Proceeds will support the many comfort and care items needed for palliative care patients and their families.

Your donations of pre-loved items that will become someone’s treasures can be brought to:

291 Esplanade, Sydney

Noon – 6 pm daily  

April 14, 15 and 16

April 21, 22 and 23

Visit our Sunflower Treasures page to learn more about the variety of pre-loved pieces and items that would be welcomed and available for sale in the Sunflower Treasures Pop Up Shop. (No clothing accepted)

Halloween Treats at Northside General

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On Monday, October 26,  Northside Volunteers treated palliative care patients to a Halloween treat, but no tricks!

Although the patients are going through a very difficult time in their life’s journey, we try to bring some normality to what is at its best a very difficult time for most of them. Thanks to the wonderful volunteers we were able to treat quite a few patients who share 4 West ( Northside General Hospital)  with our palliative care patients. We had three kinds of tea buns; raisin, cheddar and plain. Lots of cheese , jams and cookies. And of course, tea and other refreshments – all made by our volunteers. It’s such a joy to see the smiles on the patients’ faces. We give them a small  Halloween pumpkin as well.

I think there is a little child in all of us who remembers Halloweens past. Along with a few hugs and laughs we made a difference, for now.  From all the gang on the Northside Hospice team, It was our pleasure.

-Bruce Tizzard
Northside Volunteer

RBC Donates to Hospice Palliative Care Society

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Royal Bank of Canada employees from the Charlotte St. Branch present a cheque for $1,000 to The Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County.  The funds are made available through RBC's Day of Service Grant Program.  (L to R)  Shannon Kerr with the Hospice Society accepting the cheque from RBC representatives Judy O’Connell, Bonnie MacNeil,  and Jeanette MacIntyre.