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A Dream Come True

With football season underway, NHPCO brings you the story of a true football fan. Last fall, Luke McCollister wanted to attend a San Diego Chargers game while under hospice care.

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A Dream Come True

With football season underway, NHPCO brings you the story of a true football fan. Last fall, Luke McCollister wanted to attend a San Diego Chargers game while under hospice care. Keep reading to learn what his nurse did… to try and fulfill that dream.

By: Laura Jones, R.N, The Elizabeth Hospice

“I could never do your job; I don’t know how you do it.” That is the most common response that I hear when I tell people what I do for a living. Yes, I suppose my job is tough at times, but I love what I do, and I am passionate about my work. When I go home at the end of the day I can look in the mirror and feel good in knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life. That is an incredibly rewarding feeling.

I am a hospice nurse. I believe that everybody deserves dignity and respect at the end of life. I also believe that death isn’t the end, it is a new beginning, and nobody should start that beginning in fear or in pain.

In hospice we work together as a team. We support each other so that we can support our patients and help them reach their goals at the end of their life. Hospice care is so much more than symptom management. We want our patients to get the most out of the time they have left. It’s about quality of life, so we ask our patients what their self-determined life goal is. It might be teaching their spouse how to pay the bills and balance a checkbook, a candle-light dinner, or a San Diego Chargers game. 


Laura & Luke

When I met one of my recent patient’s, a 41-year-old man named Luke McCollister who was dying of cancer, his dream was to go to a Chargers game.  He had watched many football games on his 19-inch T.V., but his dying wish was to actually go to a Chargers game at Qualcomm Stadium, to be in the stands with thousands of other people cheering on his favorite football team.  

When I heard that his self-determined life goal was to go to a game, I thought, we can do this!  This is what hospice is all about, making someone’s final wish come true.  We worked together as a team and in less than a week Luke was given tickets to the Chargers game on Sunday, Sept 29th. Cox Communications donated three tickets; one for Luke, one for a guest to accompany Luke, and one for me as his nurse.  Due to the severity of Luke’s illness I needed to accompany him to the game. MaxCare Ambulance was willing to donate an ambulance transport to get Luke, his brother, and myself from Valley Center to Qualcomm Stadium.

I presented Luke with his tickets to the game the Friday before, which happened to be the very same day that Luke and his wife finalized the adoption of their 2-year-old special needs grandson.  Along with the tickets, Luke was given a Chargers Jersey, a hat, and other sports memorabilia donated by the Chargers.

Unfortunately, Luke never made it to the Chargers game on Sunday, he passed away Saturday afternoon. Though he didn’t get to go to the stadium, Luke experienced the excitement and anticipation of the game, and that truly was a dream come true.

 In times like this it is so easy to think we failed, or even question whether we should have worked so hard to make this happen. But what you don’t realize is that I was actually the one given a gift that day. I saw the raw emotion in Luke’s eyes and the pure joy on his face when he was given his tickets. I watched him, almost like a child on Christmas, open everything that was given to him and I realized it was this very moment that made everything worth it. It wasn’t the game; it was his joy of knowing that we cared enough to make it happen for him.

Everybody has their own story, some tell it, and others you can see it. It is a part of them. Each person’s journey through life has been different, as well as their journey through death. I can honestly say that I am blessed to be a hospice nurse and that my patients have allowed me to be a part of their journey.

 

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