It’s true. Hospice Niagara’s Catch the Ace has all the makings of fun and excitement. There’s the highly coveted Ace of Spades and a progressive jackpot. Weekly draws. Plus, a chance to win big; maybe even live your dream.
So go ahead. Buy a pack of tickets— but as you do, you might also feel something else — satisfaction.
It’s a good feeling to know that simply by purchasing tickets, you are helping people and families across Niagara, living with a life-limiting illness.
Hospice Niagara receives 50 per cent of all ticket sales.
Your ticket purchase will help us provide people and families with care, compassion and dignity throughout their illness, as well as provide support for people grieving a death.
Thank you for making a difference.
They were kindred spirits, identical in ways only they truly understood. Mother. And daughter. In side-by-side photos, taken when they were about the same age, they might even have passed for twins, their long brown hair cascading in gentle waves. Kindhearted. Strong willed, with some attitude. They even shared a lifelong love of the thick-coated Husky dog breed.
All things considered, when her mom, Louise Laforest, died of pancreatic cancer at age 53, Krystal Tremblay lost a part of herself.
“We were very, very close,” says Krystal, who was 27 years old when her mom died in the hospice in St. Catharines, in 2017. “It all happened so quickly. She was discussing possible treatments, but it (the cancer) was growing too rapidly.”
In the end, Louise chose to move from her home in Welland, to hospice.
Krystal didn’t know much about hospice care, but the warm and comforting welcome allowed her a reassuring exhale. “As soon as she got there, she was in really good hands. You could tell,” she says.
“It put my mind at ease, knowing she was in good care. It was safe, secure, beautiful. It was home.”
Her mom enjoyed a bath and her long hair, matted from days of lying in bed at home, was brushed and put into a “pretty braid.” And then, her two Siberian Husky dogs, Sasha and Mika, visited her room.
“She was as happy as she could be,” says Krystal. “Everything was changing so quickly and happening all at once. She went from being at home, in her bed, to being somewhere else.
“Having her dogs there made her feel more normal. They were her babies, her stress relievers.”
In those first days, Krystal discovered something else about hospice care — that compassion and support is for family too.
When Krystal wasn’t working a fulltime job, she would be at hospice, sitting in a corner of her mom’s room, feeling the weight of an unfair world.
“I was mad. I was sad. I was angry,” she says. “I was just mad at the world and I didn’t want to talk about it. I was angry at the cancer and I was missing my mom.”
It was there, in a place of grief and loss that she met a Hospice Niagara supportive counsellor. “We had a chat … it was, a warm feeling. Deep and caring. Calming. I talked about good things, good memories,” she says.
“It got some of that dark out.”
When Krystal spoke about her mom’s love of everything Johnny Cash, she was inspired to retrieve her mother’s collection of CDs and hold “concerts” in her room. Although Louise could no longer communicate with words, Krystal knew she was happy when she lifted her hand and moved one finger to the upbeat, Ring of Fire.
“I would sit with her,” she says, “and my aunt said, ‘You can hold her hand; she’ll know you’re holding her hand’.
“I held her hand. It was really warm.” Her voice pauses, then begins again, “It was really warm. That’s how we stayed close.”
Louise died in November, 2017.
Krystal has an infant daughter now. Harper Louise. A little girl named after her grandmother, who always talked about being a nana one day.
“I never knew much about hospice,” says Krystal. “I just remember thinking, ‘This is such a good thing. It’s just a good way …
“I really am thankful. We were only there for a little bit, but it was the best way.”
For more information about Hospice Niagara’s bereavement supports, call 905-984-8766 ext. 233 or visit www.hospiceniagara.ca