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John’s Smile

John Pinaud had a lot of friends, a great sense of humour and was a great storyteller. A  jack of all trades, he was often called upon to lend a helping hand.  He was also a  loving husband, father and grandpa and thanks to his family, was able to pass away peacefully at home. Dale Pinaud, John’s wife, says the services provided by the Palliative Care Service, supported by Hospice Cape Breton, were extremely helpful. Often he would share stories of his love of boating with his VON and Palliative caregivers. In May 2019, John received his cancer diagnosis, and he was expected to pass away by the end of the summer but John defied that timeline and passed away on May 10, 2020. Dale gives credit to the supports the family received which made that time easier for both John and his family.

Dale is grateful that John was able to be in the comfort of his own home until his passing, as he had wished.   Even more so as the global pandemic kept many families apart during this critical time. John passed away listening to his favourite music with Dale and his daughters by his side. For Dale, she cherishes the fact that he passed away with dignity, surrounded by love and kindness.

Dale says that one of the things she most appreciated was the fact they didn’t have to wait for anything. She would make a call and whatever was needed was provided. Or, if a need was identified during a home visit, it was addressed right away. She also appreciates that staff encouraged and played on John’s sense of humour and his love of music. John would always face his treatment with a joke and a smile. The information contained on his charts would often indicate the last thing John felt like doing was smiling, but smile he did. She said Susan MacKenzie and Amy, two palliative care nurses who went above and beyond with their guidance and expertise, always brought joy with their visits. Dale says they always had a lot of laughs, which was a big help. “It is the best medicine after all,” says Dale.

John’s friendships touched a lot of people during his life.   After he passed away, Dale remembers a long-time friend of John’s coming to the door.   He cried when he told Dale he had lost his best friend.   Dale takes comfort in knowing that John died the way he wanted and says the people on the Palliative Care team are angels on earth.

“They helped me with John’s care in so many ways,” says Dale. “They taught me how to do the injections and how to provide personal care properly. The thought of providing an injection scared me at first, and I told them that’s why I became a teacher.  But their patience and kindness prevailed, and helped to keep John comfortable.”

John was able to die at home, however that is not always possible for everyone. That is one of the reasons Hospice Cape Breton is constructing our community’s first 10-bed Hospice. It will provide a home like setting for those needing end of life care, and will be designed to meet the needs of patients and their families with compassion and care. From the warm and welcoming family and dining rooms, quiet room, spacious patient rooms and beautiful tranquil gardens, it will be a place of comfort.

Like anyone going through the grieving process, the loss of John is felt more acutely on some days, washing over Dale in emotional waves. “What does help with the loss is the fact that he died the way he wanted, at home, and with dignity. I will always take comfort in that–and in remembering John’s smile,” says Dale.