Taking the Plunge, For a Good Cause!

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The folks in Port Morien always like to ring in the new year with a ‘splash’, and not just of the bubbly. The annual Port Morien Polar Bear Dip is growing more popular with each year, and 2018 was no exception. This event acts as a fundraiser with proceeds shared between the Branch 55 Legion and a local charity. For the first time, the Polar Bear Dip Committee chose Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton as the beneficiary. Committee Chair Katherine MacDonald says “we chose the Society because of the significant work that is carried out in the community. Our committee members had experienced first hand the kindness and compassion this service provides to patients and their families, and we wanted to help the service continue their important work.”

The Port Morien Polar Bear Dip was thrilled to have the biggest total raised to date, at $5,200, with $2,600 going to the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County. Now that’s refreshing!

Paying it Forward

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Darren Smith was working in Northern Ontario when he was diagnosed with cancer. The news brought him back to his parents who had moved to Cape Breton. During his first visit to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital he learned that his cancer was far more advanced than he had imagined. It was stage 4 and terminal and he was given six months to live. Darren passed away 18 months later.

Darren’s Mom, Brenda Burton speaks of the experience at the Hospital and the An Cala Unit as nothing but positive. “On every step of our journey, the care and support was excellent,” says Burton. Being new to the area, Darren and his family didn’t know a lot of people, and she says the staff and volunteers became extended family.

Darren spent time on the unit on a few occasions and was always appreciative of the fact he had his own space and his own TV. His last visit to the unit was in December and his Mom remembers how wonderful it was to be able to take advantage of the near by kitchen to enjoy coffee or some home made baked goods that were offered daily.

She remembers getting a picture of Darren by the tree and how much the family appreciated the home-like atmosphere around them. “On the unit, they thought of everything,” says Brenda noting how appreciative the family was of the available play space on the unit for Darren’s niece and nephew. “They had a chance to see their uncle, then they could go and play freely.” She recalls how much the flowers, little gift bags and simple acts of kindness meant to Darren. “He was young, but those gestures meant a lot to him.”

Burton also recalls how important it was for Darren to attend Rotary’s Ribfest. For three years, the Hospice Society benefitted from the proceeds given at the gate. Even when he wasn’t feeling well, he wanted to attend so he could contribute to a cause that had become so important to him.

During his stay, Darren and his Mom spent time watching the World Junior hockey tournament together. He wondered if others were as lucky as he, with a television and the space to enjoy their favourite shows as a family. As the two were enjoying the games, Darren said “we have to pay it forward Mom, can you do that for me?”

Darren was always sensitive to the needs of others. As the disease and the medications began to alter his personality, he would apologize for his inability to settle. Brenda is so grateful for the care he received, and takes comfort in the fact that her son did not suffer.

Brenda took Darren’s words to heart, and provided a very generous gift to the An Cala Unit. As a result, the Society was able to purchase new televisions for several of the rooms on the unit, so that others can enjoy their favourite shows as Darren did.

Darren had asked his Mom to keep paying it forward, we are so grateful to Darren and his family for doing so.

Memories Cast in Stone

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On June 4, 2018 a Memorial Service was held to remember patients in the Palliative Care Service who passed away between September 2017 and March 2018. It was one of two services held annually, with the other taking place in November. Upon arrival, each family member was asked to choose from a range of unique stones to hold on to during the service, and take with them upon leaving. The service honoured 297 patients with the stones, in song and in quiet reflection.

The “Significance of the Stone” was read by one of the palliative care nursing staff:

As you came in the door this evening each of you selected a stone.
Each stone is unique.
Some are weathered and worn and others are
Smooth and delicate. Its journey to get here was as varied as the paths that have
Led you here this evening.
This stone is a symbol of strength and endurance, qualities many of you
Displayed throughout your loved ones’ journey. As we move
Through this service, we ask that you hold onto the stone and think
of your loved one.
We hope that you will keep this stone at home or in a special place and at a moment.
When you may need a bit of strength, take comfort in knowing that your stone endures.

Busting the Myths around the Palliative Approach to Care

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Busting the Myths around the Palliative Approach to Care:

Myth #1: Palliative care is most appropriate for patients who will likely die within weeks.
It’s a common misperception that a palliative approach to care is for patients who are dying. In reality, taking a palliative approach means focusing on improving the quality of life, and focusing holistically on pain and symptom management for those with life limiting illnesses. It is provided in all health care settings and involves physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care.

Myth #2: Treatment stops when palliative care starts.
You may think that palliative care signals the end of chronic disease management and related treatment. In reality, some disease-oriented treatments improve symptoms and increase quality of life and therefore continue to be provided as a comfort measure.


Myth #3: Palliative care is best provided by specialists.
Some think that only specialists can provide palliative care. In reality, a palliative approach to care is part of providing comprehensive primary care and can be augmented, if required, by palliative care professionals. We believe that the palliative approach to care should be part of the skills and competencies of all health care providers who care for patients with serious life limiting illnesses.

Myth #4: Raising the topic of palliative care with patients and caregivers robs them of hope.
You may think that patients are better o not talking about palliative care. In reality, a patient does not have to be within weeks of dying to bene t from palliative care. You can start the discussion early about protecting their quality of life as long as possible, which could include clinical interventions but also means understanding what’s important to that patient. Patients can articulate what’s important to them through advance care planning—a process that encourages individuals to re ect on their values and wishes, and lets others know their future health and personal care preferences in the event that they become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care. Ask yourself this question if you are wondering when you should raise advance care planning with a patient: Would you be surprised if this patient died within 6-12 months? If you answered yes, then raising the subject with your patient is really important.

Together We Care Golf Tournament

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Thank you to the wonderful volunteers, sponsors, organizers and participants of the 21st Annual Together We Care Golf Tournament, that took place at Bell Bay Golf Club on Friday, June 22nd. We had beautiful weather and a great turnout of golfers!

The Together We Care Golf Tournament is a major fundraising event for the Hospice Palliative Care Society that contributes significantly to comfort and care support programs and services for patients and families facing life-threatening illness in ways that are personal and as unique as the patients themselves.



Palliative Care Memorial Service

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Our bi-annual Palliative Care Memorial Service is coming up on Monday, June 4th, at 7:00pm at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Sydney River. This service is for families of those who passed between September 1, 2017 and February 28, 2018.
The Cape Breton Regional Hospital Choir will join Jenn Sheppard, Jordyn Crocker, Stephen Muise and our Music Therapist, Jill Murphy, in providing beautiful music for this service. 🎶
There will be a reception to follow downstairs in the Parish Hall.

National Hospice Palliative Care Week Proclamation and Flag Raising

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Hospice Palliative Care staff and volunteers gather with CBRM’s Mayor, Cecil Clarke, and Deputy Mayor, Eldon MacDonald, to raise the Society’s flag in support of National Hospice Palliative Care Week.

CBRM’s Deputy Mayor, Eldon MacDonald, has signed a proclamation stating May 6th-12th to be  National Hospice Palliative Care Week in the CBRM in order to bring more public awareness of the mission of the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County in supporting and promoting compassionate care for individuals and their loved ones who are living with a life-threatening illness.

The theme of National Hospice Palliative Care Week this year is “Compassionate Communities”. The theme encourages Canadians to consider ways community involvement can support end of life, and the bereavement process.

Sunflower Treasures 3 – a pop up shop in support of Hospice

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Sunflower Treasures 3 – A Pop-Up Shop in support of Hospice Palliative Care

Join us for a 3-day shopping extravaganza where you’re guaranteed to find the best selection of pre-loved items, with proceeds from the event going toward the Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County.

Sale items include jewellery (contemporary and vintage); purses, accessories and ladies formal and cocktail wear, china, pottery, décor and entertaining items, collectibles, artwork, wall hangings, mirrors, fabric, yarn and quilting supplies, table linens, books, games, DVDs, special interest magazines and vinyl records/collections.

Sale Dates:
Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5, 10:00am-6:00pm
Sunday, May 6, 10:00am-4:00pm

Location: 291 Esplanade, Sydney (across from the Holiday Inn)

Follow us on Facebook to get a sneak peak of the items. We look forward to seeing you at the Sunflower Treasures 3 three day event!

Together We Care Golf Tournament

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Join us at the beautiful Bell Bay Golf Club on Friday, June 22nd for the 21st Annual Together We Care Golf Tournament in support of the Hospice Palliative Care Society.

The “Together We Care” Golf Tournament is a major fundraising event that contributes significantly to comfort and care support programs and services for patients and families facing life-threatening illness in ways that are personal and as unique as the patients themselves. Over the past 20 years, through the generosity of our supporters, this tournament has raised over $625,000 and has impacted thousands who are friends, family and colleagues in our local communities.

Contact the Hospice Society Office to register your team today! (902) 567-8584.

Jill Murphy, Accredited Music Therapist

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March is Music Therapy month and Hospice Palliative Care Society music therapy Jill Murphy (r), is the recipient of a spring orchid presented to her by board member Michele McKinnon (l). The spring orchid was presented in appreciation for the outstanding work she does with Palliative Care Service patients in hospital and in the community year round. Jill is an Accredited Music Therapist who together with patients (and/or family members) creates and implements a uniquely personalized music therapy experience that reflects individual needs of the patient.

The Society has funded this position since 2009, understanding that music is known to positively impact patients and particularly so in Cape Breton where music is deeply rooted in community culture. Music Therapy in palliative care can help improve communications, reduce anxiety, promote emotional expression, decrease feelings of isolation, decrease pain perception and aid in a life review. Patients have the option of simply listening to music that is either pre-recorded or live and family members are encouraged to share music that is important to the patient. Some patients choose to work with Jill in personal song writing or become involved in active music making along with her. Some patients choose to create legacy CDs for family and friends.

The Hospice Palliative Care Music Therapy program is also supported by Second Wind Community Concert Band through an annual fundraising concert that takes place in June.