A Client’s Story
By Nicole Wynnyk
My name is Nicole Wynnyk. I’d like to share my Hospice journey with you.
In 2009 I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. The diagnosis was shocking, but initially I was told not to worry – it was a treatable cancer. Shortly after the pathology report showed it was actually a rare neuro-endocrine cancer with a very bleak prognosis. I was told to get my affairs in order and chemo would start immediately.
The progression was painful and I ended up at Whitehorse General Hospital for the next four months. It was during that time that I was introduced to people who were key to my treatment and to my spirit. Margriet from the Yukon Palliative Care Program brought in Dr. Danusia Kanachowski who followed and supported me over the next four years. Margriet also shared what services Hospice provides and asked if I would like to speak with someone.
One day in hospital as I lay on my side, curled in a ball, Trish Eccles from Hospice Yukon came through my door. At that time the nausea and bladder spasms were overwhelming. Something about Trish’s peaceful presence put me at ease as she introduced herself as being from Hospice.
The day I met Trish was my first experience with Healing Touch. She asked what I hoped for from this treatment. I wanted relief from the intense nausea.
As I lay hearing nothing but my breath I quickly fell asleep. When I woke after what felt like a few minutes I discovered that not only 40 minutes had passed but so had my nausea.
That was the beginning of a very special relationship. Trish began organizing HT volunteers to support me through my chemo treatments. When I was transferred to VGH for my bladder removal Trish arranged for HT volunteers whose occupations ranged from OR nurses to gourmet chefs to help me with my care. They came daily until I was transferred back to Whitehorse.
My care with Hospice Yukon continued for the next year and a half when I was well enough to return to work part time.
Later on I received the news that the cancer had spread to my lungs and liver. I was told once again to go home and put my affairs in order. I was absolutely numb from the news. I asked if I would make my son Tyler’s graduation and was told “no promises”.
So in March 2011 surrounded by family, friends, my community and Hospice we celebrated my life.
I continued the chemo treatments for the next year but they seemed to have little impact. I also started regular appointments for Healing Touch with Trish every Thursday morning at Hospice.
I am grateful to say that I did get to see my wonderful son Tyler graduate and be valedictorian for Vanier Catholic Secondary School and go on to work for Finning in Whitehorse.
On one of my weekly visits with Trish I knew clearly what I wanted to share but couldn’t find the words. She suggested I see my doctor, which resulted in a CT scan showing the cancer had metastasized to my brain. Once again things looked bleak, my family was called, and a large mass was removed from my front left lobe. To everyone’s surprise (include my own) I awoke from the surgery without deficit and returned home 3 days later and resumed chemo once again.
With this renewed chance I reviewed my bucket list. With support from my doctors and Hospice I was able to check several things off, including a visit to my uncle in Florida, and seeing my daughter Jocelyn graduate. She too was one of the valedictorians representing Vanier Catholic School with a full hockey scholarship to SAIT in Calgary.
My last wish was to make my parents 50th wedding anniversary. My compromised health made this a challenge but with support and careful planning from Danusia, Dr. Kolton and Hospice Yukon I was able to make that happen. It was a trip with many special moments.
My arrival at Saskatoon airport was met with love and joy from many including a high school sweetheart, my big brother, and my Uncle from Florida.
I was so grateful to share in the wonderful celebration of my parents love for each other that has endured 50 years of joy, sadness, laughter, good times and hard times.
Although it was great, the trip did take its toll and my flight back to Whitehorse took me straight from airport to hospital.
Trish and Hospice were there for me once again. Trish and the many caring volunteers – Clara, Jennifer, Judy, and Carlotta – came to offer regular Healing Touch sessions to me at WGH.
The caring energy of the Hospice volunteers brought me peace and calm, and relief from my pain. I recall an occasion where I hadn’t shared with Trish before the session about a chest pain that I had. During the session as Trish put her hand upon my heart the pain that radiated through my chest to my back disappeared. It took my breath away. I placed my hand on Trish’s and began to cry.
With my cancer journey these last four years and the steady decline in my health this year I am so grateful for the love and support Hospice has given to not only me but my family.
There were moments that I didn’t know if I could continue this fight but found great comfort in my treatments with Trish and the other amazing, beautiful volunteers from Hospice Yukon.
An important lesson I’ve learned from Hospice is that while giving is good, I needed to learn to receive.
I will be forever grateful for this and the other lessons and gifts of love and support I received from Hospice until the end.
Love and Gratitude Always,
Nicole Wynnyk died on November 2, 2013 with her sister Mary and her son Tyler at her side.
Nicky taught a lot to those of us who had the opportunity and privilege to offer her Healing Touch. Despite her long and difficult journey with cancer she was almost always cheerful and positive and forever thinking of others. Her physical capacity to endure her various treatments was remarkable. She would commute from Marsh Lake to Whitehorse, usually driving herself, and arrive at Hospice for her Healing Touch appointment with a smile on her face and say, “I’m having a really good day today.”
Nicky faced her life and her death with her eyes wide open and never shied away from her reality. She was the epitome of making every day count before you die. All of us at Hospice who had the opportunity to meet her and offer her Healing Touch were deeply moved by her spirit.
Before Nicky passed away she asked if Carlotta, Judy (Hospice volunteers) and I would wash her body after she died. The three of us were truly honored. Miraculously, we were all here in town when she died and able to honor her request.
Nicky will forever hold a place in our hearts.