By Bob Tull, Whatcom Hospice Foudation Board
As a long-time Board member and Past President of Whatcom Hospice Foundation, I have always been moved by stories of patients and families who have been touched by the work of hospice. But I could not really know until my own brother’s illness how much Whatcom Hospice services mean to families and individuals at a difficult time of life.
In March of 2013 my younger brother Steve moved from his home in Seattle to reside in our Hospice House. He died there at the end of May. Steve was a fit, vital, sweet and caring father, husband, brother, friend and professional who spent the last eighteen months of his life fighting brain cancer.
When he could no longer remain at home, he agreed to come to Bellingham. Three of his brothers live here and his son attends Western Washington University. Other siblings live nearby, so Steve and his wife, Andrea, could see a balance of care, comfort and convenience was achievable here.
I can tell all of you—my friends and my community—that the services provided at the Hospice House and by the Hospice program are as good as we have always said they were. I’ve seen it. It’s true. The facility is truly excellent. The program is flexible. The people are especially good.
When Steve arrived at Hospice House, the staff let us know right away that his end-of-life experience was ours to shape. They gave us wide latitude to be as involved and present as we needed to be. We made certain that Steve was surrounded with loving support almost every waking hour. I brought in a family heirloom chair to help seat his many visitors, and set up a barbecue on his private patio to cook steaks and chicken and fish for Steve and the clan.
Through it all, the Hospice Team could not have been more accommodating. They knew what we needed at every step of the way. Thanks to their expert management of Steve’s care, he was able to go on several outings, including movies, drives, and even dinners out. Sometimes we just sat in the sun.
Experiencing Hospice services first-hand from the perspective of a family member was important for me. I now fully understand how important it is that we continue to provide the depth and breadth of support to patients and families who are coping with terminal illness.
More than ever before, I feel a deep sense of commitment to ensuring that these services are available to every patient in need, regardless of their ability to pay. Steve had resources; others do not. Your support makes all the difference in ensuring that every patient receives the Hospice care they need. Please consider making a gift to Whatcom Hospice Foundation today.
Robert M. Tull
Whatcom Hospice Foundation Board of Directors