Patricia Carpenter is determined to live the rest of her life the way she always has – on her terms.
Usually active and energetic, her life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in August 2016. “It’s a vicious disease. It tears your life apart,” she said. While Carpenter underwent colon resection surgery and started chemotherapy, she opted for hospice care when the cancer treatments began to severely hamper her quality of life.
She is grateful to caregivers from Lincolnland Hospice of Sarah Bush Lincoln who are helping her make the most of each day. “The biggest surprise was the lunch they planned for my 80th birthday,” Carpenter said. “As soon as the nurse learned my birthday was coming up, she just picked up the phone and started making arrangements,” Carpenter said.
The Charleston woman and her husband, Stan, were treated to a birthday lunch with family and friends at Red Lobster in Champaign. The special day was made possible with the help of Lincolnland Hospice’s Grant-A-Wish program. The program offers end-of-life requests up to $500 to all its patients.
“The funny thing is on the day we decided to stop treatment I told the doctor one of my bucket list wishes was going to Red Lobster and eating all the lobster I could eat,” Carpenter said. While she wasn’t able to eat much that day, she appreciated the opportunity to spend time with her children, including a son and daughter who traveled from out-of-state, and her closest friends. “Unfortunately, I became ill and had to miss some of the party, but I just can’t get over that they wanted to do that for me,” she said. “I think I said some bad words about cancer that night.”
Carpenter was also touched to receive a bouquet of birthday flowers from Sarah Bush Lincoln Oncologist Abdur Shakir, MD, and the Regional Cancer Center staff. “They were just gorgeous,” she said. “The best people in the world are right out there at that cancer center. They are wonderful people.”
While Carpenter has good days and bad days, she isn’t ready to give up. “There’s so much out there I haven’t learned,” she said. Her spunky attitude keeps her husband of 30 years on his toes, though he is also battling prostate cancer. The couple is grateful for the support from Lincolnland Hospice. “I never realized the kindness and compassion hospice has until this happened,” her husband said. “It makes a such big difference just to know that someone cares – and they care.”
Lincolnland Hospice cares for people in 20 counties in East Central and Southern Illinois, regardless of their ability to pay, and provides comprehensive bereavement services. For more information about Lincolnland Hospice, call 1-800-454-4055.