Gratitude for St. Luke’s Hospice
Married just shy of forty years, Bruce and Carol Keene enjoyed island vacations, facetiming with their grandkids and spending time at the Jersey Shore. In addition to her passion for her long career in training and development and talent acquisition, Carol loved the water. For years the Keene’s had an above-ground pool in their backyard, but six years ago they upgraded to an inground pool – much to the chagrin of their two adult children. Says Bruce, “For Carol, the pool was “it”!”
Last year Carol was receiving therapy for nagging back pain, but it wasn’t helping. One morning in May 2021 Carol woke to unbearable pain and she and Bruce headed to St. Luke’s Allentown Campus where, following a CT scan, a large uterine tumor was discovered. A biopsy revealed Leiomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer that begins in smooth muscle tissue, which had already spread to Carol’s lungs and vertebrae. Radiation and the first round of chemotherapy were unsuccessful, so four treatments of a different chemotherapy were prescribed. In December, after the third treatment, Carol’s health was declining so the decision was made to stop treatment and start hospice care.
Hospice Case Manager Dana came to their Orefield home and explained hospice to Bruce and Carol, what to expect and answered all of their questions. Dana helped Carol manage her pain, while Shelby and other aids assisted Carol with bathing, changing her clothes, trimming her nails and other basic hygiene. “Shelby rubbed lotion on Carol’s back and legs and Carol really enjoyed all of their company and was grateful for their care,” says Bruce.
Ironically, during this time a young family moved into the Keene’s small neighborhood, just a few doors down from Bruce and Carol. Seeing the young mother outside one day, Bruce noticed she was wearing St. Luke’s scrubs and learned she was a hospice nurse. Although Emily wasn’t officially part of Carol’s care team, she offered her assistance and routinely texted or stopped by to check on Carol and Bruce. In early January when Carol’s breathing became labored, Bruce called Emily who quickly came to the house, called the case manager and stayed with him as Carol passed away.
Bruce was against home hospice care at first. “I was too emotional and didn’t think I could handle Carol being at home,” he admits. But he is grateful that she was and for the care provided by St. Luke’s Hospice. Following Carol’s death Bruce appreciated the follow-up from Carol’s care team and had a few sessions with a hospice grief counselor. “The whole hospice organization is caring and compassionate. They do what they say they are going to do and I am grateful they were here for us.”
St. Luke’s Hospice has been providing compassionate end-of-life care, bereavement care and counseling for patients and their families since 1986.