With Gratitude

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white cis woman, blond hair with glasses wearing a black and red plaid shirt with a black t-shirt.

Twenty months after her stage four colon cancer diagnosis, Joanne’s eyes fill with tears of gratitude thinking about the care she’s received. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I felt loved.”

Joanne’s experience with the doctors, nurses and staff at the Saskatoon Cancer Centre left her feeling a profound appreciation for the work they do in the most trying of times, “Every person I met was incredible. I can’t say enough about the care I received.”

She admits she was a bit worried by the stories of long wait times and understaffing in the provincial health system, but her entire experience with the Saskatoon Cancer Centre was entirely positive. While the centre was often very busy, there was always someone who made time to answer her questions and explain the details of her treatment. Joanne put her faith in their knowledge and expertise. “They’re the scientists. I left it in their hands and went with whatever they guided me through.”

Medical Oncology Team Lead Dr. Adnan Zaidi and his team get particular praise from Joanne. “He had my back and I felt like I was part of his team. I was never just a file on his desk.”

And sometimes, there are just very special connections between a patient and caregiver. For Joanne, that connection was with Palliative Care Nurse Trish. When Joanne’s cancer treatments ended, the Agency helped her move into the care of the Saskatchewan Health Authority. Trish made home visits and then helped Joanne transition to end-of-life care in hospice. Even though she’s off her case, Trish continues to drop by to say hello. “Trish has become a true friend.” 

Joanne thrives on relationships; she is the consummate people person. That’s evident in what she says but also in what you see in her room – a big photo of her family at a movie night she organized in her hospice home, grandkids’ drawings, cards from friends and a pickleball signed by her teammates. All are reminders of her treasured connections, and the strength she draws from them. “It’s important to be open with people about what’s happening, about your fears, remembering your family are going through their own experience.”

Gratitude fills Joanne’s heart – gratitude for family, for her oncology team, for her friends, and for a very special nurse named Trish. With the light of the winter sun streaming into her room, she turns to her husband of more than 50 years and says, “Terry, we’re so lucky.”

“Yes,” he replies. “We sure were.”

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