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Love Endures Beyond

Two hands sit submerged in a bucket of silicone, fingers clasped together, forming a symbol of love enduring the way only love can. The hands belong to 62-year-old Violet Mitchell and her husband Todd. In March of 2023, Violet was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. Over the course of the last year, the cancer has advanced to stage four and spread to her spine and brain.

Knowing that they don’t have much time left together, Violet and Todd decided to create a mold of them holding hands, a tangible symbol of the love they have for each other. Todd plans to keep it so, “I’ll always have something to remember her,” he says. This is the second one they have done. The first one Todd plans on giving to their daughter whose sister passed away at Carefor Hospice Cornwall eight years ago.

Since her diagnosis, Violet has been receiving support in the community from Carefor Hospice Cornwall. Violet also attends Hospice’s day program once a week where together with 10 – 12 other people she plays games, does crafts and participates in community outings. But more than anything for Violet it’s the chance to connect with people going through something similar.

“It offers you a feeling,” says Violet, “I can see what [the disease] is doing to me. I can see what it’s doing to them.” Violet suggests that this allows her to see different perspectives of what experiencing hospice is like: “We talk about how long we have left. I go home and think maybe I have it better than some people. Maybe worse than some.”

Todd also participates in a caregivers’ support group at the Hospice, where caregivers and family members are able to connect with the support of the Hospice staff around the emotions and struggles of caring for a loved one nearing the end of their journey.

Often when people think of Hospice, they think of the building and the care provided within. In response to the pandemic where Carefor Hospice wasn’t able to provide services in the building for our community clients, community programs were enhanced to fill a need for palliative care in people’s homes. “We just continued to offer these services after the pandemic,’ says Hospice Manager, Angela Labelle. “It allows us to reach far more people and families in the community than we were prior to the pandemic.”

Knowing that Violet’s journey may be nearing its end, Violet and Todd continue to set short-term goals for themselves in order to make the absolute most of the time they have left. These goals include the intimate experiencing of renewing their vows at Niagara Falls, and the exciting opportunity to see the upcoming total solar eclipse together. Todd says the journey has been tough, making it important to live life to the fullest. Or, as he stated, “you never know, so live every day.”

Carefor Hospice Cornwall’s services are available to people like Violet and Todd thanks in large part to donor support. It with through the help of donations that we have been able to pivot to create the Community Palliative Care program and to help dozens of more people each year. To contribute, please visit the Carefor website and to join our upcoming Hike for Hospice, please find more information here