Jim and Donna were married 42 years when they learned he had cancer. The diagnosis left them reeling. Treatment was recommended to start immediately.

Chemotherapy began to make Jim sick and exhausted. Donna was experiencing anxiety as the workload of taking care of Jim escalated. She learned about Hospice SLO County, a non-medical, volunteer hospice that allowed clients to continue treatments.

Donna reached out and spoke with the Hospice SLO County care manager.  She was relieved to find out Jim qualified for an in-home volunteer who would come to the house 4 hours a week.  Jim enjoyed his in-home volunteer. Sometimes Jim would be asleep during the in-home volunteer hours. Sometimes he would be awake and they would visit about Jim’s time in the army. The in-home volunteer even helped record some of his stories.

Since Jim was in good care, Donna could go to her doctor appointments, run errands, see friends, and take care of herself. Donna learned that she could attend a Care Giver Support group twice a month at Hospice SLO County. Donna attended the Care Giver Support group and had Hospice SLO County individual anticipatory grief counseling for her anxiety. She was so thankful that all of these services were free of charge.

Unfortunately, cancer continued to spread and Jim decided to stop his treatments.  At this time, he was given a less than 6-month prognosis and his doctor was able to prescribe medical hospice.  While medical hospice was there to administer medication, Hospice SLO County continued to send the in-home volunteer that had established a wonderful relationship with Jim and Donna. Jim continued his army service conversations and Donna continued her counseling. 

Hospice SLO County also set Jim up with an end-of-life doula. This volunteer has gone through extensive training and can help organize all of the logistics making Jim’s last days as meaningful as possible. As Jim grew weaker and entered his last days, Hospice SLO County began a vigil with 30 end-of-life doulas taking turns sitting with Jim in 4-hour shifts.  Jim and Donna had the support of their family, friends, medical hospice nurses, and Hospice SLO County end-of-life doulas.  No questions were left unanswered.  No one was ever alone. 

Jim had a beautiful funeral that he helped plan with his Hospice SLO County end-of-life doula.  Donna had tremendous help and support from Hospice SLO County during this difficult time.  She joined the Loss of Spouse support group and began individual grief counseling. 

Donna continues to tell her friends about Hospice SLO County and how they helped from Jim’s diagnosis until after his death. She is forever grateful for Hospice SLO County and the peace that they brought to Jim and herself.