Danielle's Story

In Memory of Our Gal Val 

As a mother, grandmother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend to many, Valerie DeBie lived an amazing life. She was known as a caregiver, always looking out for the wellbeing of others and since her passing at St. Joseph’s Hospice in 2016, her daughter Danielle DeBie has continued her mother’s legacy. Danielle sits on the planning committee for the annual fundraiser, Hike for Hospice, helping to raise awareness and funds for end-of-life care.

“My mom was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer in 2014 and with no cure in sight, she was told that she had 18 months to live” 
shares Danielle. “It was strongly suggested that she undertake aggressive chemotherapy and radiation, with the possibility that this treatment plan would extend her life by six months. However, my mom has always been a very strong and determined woman and after intensive research and meetings with the oncology team, she chose an alternative treatment plan living her final days the way she wanted – out of the hospital."

While enjoying a year of stable health surrounded by friends and family, Valerie’s cancer had progressed and she had to be readmitted to the hospital in 2016. Thankfully, that’s where Danielle’s family learned about St. Joseph’s Hospice – a home away from home.

“My aunt scheduled a tour with the Residential Director, Wendy Boyle and my mom insisted that if possible, she would like to live her last days at Hospice.  She loved the welcoming atmosphere at St. Joseph’s Hospice and remained hopeful for a bed to become available – she even insisted that we call Wendy on a daily basis to check her status on the waitlist! After not too long we got the call that a room was available – my mom was so excited. During her stay, she was able to enjoy therapeutic touch and my family members had the opportunity to receive massage through the Wellness Centre. I also participated in the Horticultural Program and created a beautiful succulent plant for my mom’s room. I was able to be by her side through it all, knowing that we had the skills and support from the nursing team whenever needed. Words cannot express how welcoming I felt walking into Hospice every morning to see my mom, and knowing that when I left in the evening she was in very good hands.

While sitting in my mom’s room, I learned about the Hike for Hospice and how the organization receives only 50 percent funding from the government (having to raise an additional $1.2 million each year from the community). I told my mom about the event and I committed that would give back in whatever way I could.

Sadly, after six short days of being at St. Joseph’s Hospice my mom said goodbye. Even though we were within Hospice care for a brief moment, those few short days made an incredible impact on my mom and our family. I am very grateful she had her wish come true - to say goodbye within the homelike setting of Hospice. The staff and volunteers were wonderful and Nurse Rachel will always hold a special place in my heart. It truly takes some amazing people to do what they do at St. Joseph’s Hospice and we’re very thankful for their support. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of the staff and volunteers who make saying goodbye to our loved ones a little bit easier." 

Join Danielle for 
the 9th Annual Hike for Hospice on Saturday, September 30, 2017, and help transform end-of-life care for our community. For more information about the Hike and to register, click here.