Your Stories



Garry & Linda

I want to share my experience which demonstrates why we desperately need a Hospice in Perth County.

My husband was Garry Muir.

The difficult journey that my husband and I had to go through and was made a little more bearable with the medical care, help, and support of strangers in a place we only heard good things about but had never seem until we needed to be there -- Sakura House Hospice.

My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2013. He went to the doctor as he was having problems breathing, was coughing, feeling tired and losing some weight but never thinking it was serious. The next day we were back in the office for more tests. The doctor recommended he take  the rest of the week off work for further testing. Then our doctor had us come in to tell us that the tests showed lung cancer and he was on short term disability. Our lives changed with those words; Garry was not going to work any longer.
Our family doctor had sent the referral to London Health Science Cancer Centre, where further test results revealed  the Stage 4 cancer that had spread from his lungs to his stomach. Radiation on his left lung shrunk the tumor to about half its original size. We had a little reprieve and went for a holiday to Florida in November/December 2013. While there, he started to get headaches and his left ear felt plugged. We were a little concerned but tried to stay positive ; we both knew the cancer had spread but did not want to say it out loud. We came back and called the doctor in London. In January 2014 he had more tests; the cancer had spread to the bones and brain. He went through more radiation. Garry was in a lot of pain -- they say bone cancer is the most painful of all cancers. I watched my husband suffer pain that was unbearable at times. CCAC came to our house. We got a  hospital bed and set up the house so it would be easier for him. His pain got worse and was hard for the Red Cross nurses to manage.  CCAC and our doctor had talked to us about our options if the time came when he needed more care: hospital, hospice or home. My husband did not want to go to the hospital. He wanted to stay at home and not in a hospital with its smells, noises and really no palliative care. Even if we were not willing to say that word yet out loud, we knew that was what was needed.  By the beginning of March 2014 we had to have the big talk, the two of us, as to what would be  best for him and me; we decided to go to Sakura House Hospice in Woodstock.


March 6 2014, Thursday


Garry and I arrive at Sakura House Hospice. We had not even had a tour of this place, just heard amazing things about.   We are met at the door by staff with welcoming smiles and a willingness to help in every way possible. The place is a home. You walk in the front door and smell baking, and you begin to feel a little more comfortable about coming to a hospice. They make my husband comfortable in a wheelchair and off we go to his room.  We pass the kitchen with the smells of home, and a gathering room where a puzzle is being out together and coffee and tea are being sipped. At the end of the hall there are two wings and a nurses station which does not even look like a nurses station: it is open and they are there out for you.  A nurse and volunteer greet us and explain what is happening and will happen as we settle in to stay. For how long we do not know.  Garry has an air bed in which he can sit or lie  and watch TV or look out the porch window at the birds or what is going on outside or out into the hall (if he wants the door open), a washroom that is set up for him, a love seat that converts to a bed if people wish to stay over (which will be my bed), a microwave, a fridge with a little freezer on top, a recliner chair and a closet.  This is our room for however long we need to stay here. The doctor at Sakura house comes in and talks to us and Garry gets the medical attention he so desperately needs to control his pain. This place it nothing like a hospital with its noise, smells, paging of doctors and nurses. This place provides all the care one needs for a peaceful end-of-life journey: medication when needed, support for patient and family ,care and compassion.  Garry is feeling much better as his pain is monitored 24/7. He is getting medical care and emotional support to make his stay as comfortable as possible.


As a wife, I can’t tell you enough how much being here means to me. I can be his wife, love and support him with words of comfort and understanding, instead of being his primary caregiver.. At home I was always asking if he needed anything, making sure he took the medication and was comfortable. This was stressful for both of us. He didn’t want to be a burden and I didn’t want him to think he was. Here someone is taking such good care of the person I love that I can become what I was before: a loved one, wife, family member. I got a lot of emotional support day and night. There was always someone to cry and lean on, listen to my fears and help me through the most difficult time of my life as my  loved one was dying .

My husband and I took a lighter view of at times and nicknamed this place our B&B hospice. It helped us cope during the days we spent there. There were times when he was doing okay and others when he shut down, slept a lot and ate nothing at all. The ups downs of terminal illness are difficult. The one saving grace is that you are not alone; there is support and even if nothing is said, you can feel it.

I think one of the most difficult things is that -- wonderful as this place is and as grateful as you are to be there -- you enter this place together and you leave on very different journeys. You say to yourself I don’t want to leave because you know you will be leaving alone and yet you know in your heart you will be leaving one day alone. Everyone who comes through these doors is here for one purpose: the patient to end his/her life with dignity and you to provide  that person with  support and comfort. This is a path that no one asked for and we as a society need to talk more openly and have more hospices available for all who want to end their lives in a house setting with medical care, compassion and understanding.

As I walked through the door of our home, very different emotions hit me, but this home was not filled with the sadness of my husband’s last days of life. Instead our home was filled with memories of a life we shared together; it was a safe place to cry, laugh, grieve and mourn. I was grateful we had decided to go to Sakura House Hospice and our home was still home

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