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Hospice helps Cary couple say goodbye

Posted March 27, 2012
Updated March 28, 2012

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— When Wes Golden's doctor first mentioned hospice, the 58-year-old was skeptical. Aggressive lung and prostate cancer were taking a toll on his body, but Golden didn’t want to acknowledge “the end,” he said.

“Now, I understand it’s not the end. They encourage and work with you to help you live longer,” he said.

Choosing hospice care can be a difficult decision and is often misunderstood, according to people in the profession. Nurses, clergy and other staff members help the ill and their families with medical care, pain management and emotional and spiritual support.

An estimated 1.58 million terminally ill people received hospice care in 2010, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Golden and his wife of nearly 30 years, Sheila Golden, allowed WRAL News into their home last November and December to document their story and the stories of the caretakers who helped them ease into “the end.”

“I’m grateful for every day. I thank God that I wake up and he’s here with me,” Sheila Golden said.

WRAL News visited with the Goldens in early December and watched as nurse Debra Mareya and Chaplain Letaz Jones came to the home. Both work for Community Home Care & Hospice and say their work is a calling.

“Here, I go even deeper into a person’s life, and it’s more than just a religious experience,” Jones said.

Besides managing their patients’ pain, blood pressure and sleep, they work with the family on an emotional level.

“To do this job, it has to be a calling, because they become part of your family. They become part of who you are,” Mareya said.

The staff comes as needed, and sometimes the need comes without warning.

“One day, Wesley was having a really bad day breathing, and it really scared me,” Sheila Golden said. “I called. All four came and helped us through it.”

Knowing the end was near, Sheila Golden moved her husband into a hospice home in December. Ten days later, she got the call.

“I ran over, and luckily I was able to hold his hands,” she said. “(Hospice nurses and staff) were with me during the hardest time of my life – losing him – and they stayed with me. They gave me great support afterwards.”

Sheila Golden says she is proud of her husband and the life they shared together.

“He meant a lot to me,” she said. “He always will. I feel blessed to have had the years I had with him.”

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  • topfan4unc Mar 28, 2012

    While I like hospice and it works for most, I was not able to keep them with my Mom until the end. Mom had only made one request....to not let her suffer. Her pain got really bad at the end and hospice was not giving her enough to keep her out of pain. Having a medical power of attorney, my Mom spent her final three days in a hospital but with adequate pain medication. If she cried out in pain, I ordered more. Yes, the pain meds can actually cease breathing towards the end, but if that is what it took to keep the pain away then that was what my Mom got. She was a brave woman and fought cancer for 8 years or so and I intended to honor her final request of me.

  • rainbow1 Mar 27, 2012

    Hospice is a wonderful thing. My beloved sister who lost her battle with breast cancer had a great hospice team. It was offered to us & all decisions were her & my familes choice. The doctor nor the nurse forced us to do anything but was always there to lead us in what was happening with her body. They are there to help the patient die with dignity in thier own home, surrounded by the people they love & those that love them without being drug to a hospital each time there is a crisis. Hospice is truly about the patient & thier needs. Anybody that downs the program has no right unless they have been thru it first hand. The goal with hospice is keep the patient comfortable medically & emotionally thru the end of life. When the body comes to a point that is shutting down the body no longer needs nutrition. It is a natural death that helps the patient decide thier own fate. Hospice employees rock.

  • Tarheel True Mar 27, 2012

    Went through Hospice with my father, amazing people, which made a very difficult time easier.

  • STRAWBERRY LETTER 23 Mar 27, 2012

    What a great story. Hospice is a godsend and I'm so glad they are there for the terminally ill, as well as those who are very sick.

    Beth

  • mythoughts4today Mar 27, 2012

    @rjwrrw...I think your comments are insensitive. Having lost my dad to Alzheimer's, I went through the dying process with him. When people are terminally ill and nearing the end, they lose the ability to swallow. Sure, you could "feed" them through an IV, but if there is no hope for recovery, which is a requirement of hospice care, then that effort is fruitless. When my dad was dying and lost his desire and ability to eat and drink, I found comfort in these words: Your loved one is not dying because he is not eating and drinking; your loved one is not eating and drinking because he is dying. Sadly, that is part of the natural process.

  • dws Mar 27, 2012

    I have always heard nothing but accolades about Hospice, which is the highest compliment, in my opinion. You are God's angels on earth.

  • juchushu Mar 27, 2012

    We used Hospice for my grandmother until she passed away in October of 2010. They were amazingly wonderful people. They sat with us the night she passed away (at 2:00 in the morning until 7:00 that morning) and they were at the funeral, and they came by for months afterward to check on my mom. They are definitely God-sent, and extremely special.

  • 2gurlz2boyzMom Mar 27, 2012

    i started crying...thanks.
    hospice doesn't always mean the end... they help you out. you can actually be released from hospice care, and live more of your life, it's not usual, but it does happen.
    may god bless you ms. goldston.

  • 1nclady Mar 27, 2012

    We used Hospice Of Wake County when my mom was in the final stages of lung cancer. They were amazing. Thanks to them mom was able to die in comfort in her home.

  • mayry Mar 27, 2012

    Hospice of Wake County is one of the two places I make donations to. Their unending support at one of the hardest times of a family's life is simply beyond words. They are angels from heaven.....

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