Final days deserve more

Editor:

I recently had a sudden urge to visit a friend who had just been admitted to Peace Arch Hospital due to cancer-related issues.

Editor:

I recently had a sudden urge to visit a friend who had just been admitted to Peace Arch Hospital due to cancer-related issues.

This was also a sudden trip for her, since she was settling so nicely into her new “digs” here in South Surrey.

I had only known this lady for about six weeks through work, but we instantly connected and she became a true friend to me.

During our brief friendship, she shared so many wonderful stories about her life and family, and she talked about her husband, who had passed away years ago. This lady was a tiny, spunky, intelligent and very courageous individual. She always smiled, despite dealing with horrible lung and kidney cancer.

I am writing to say how shocked and upset I was when I visited her in hospital and saw that she had no TV in her little room. Evidently, if you are in palliative care, you do not get a television, unless you pay for it.

Yet, if you go to palliative care in Delta, the TV is free.

Sitting on a chair beside my friend’s bed, I noticed a television that was brought from home. When I asked her if I could plug it in, she said don’t bother, because a staff member will come by and unplug it, which had already happened a few times.

So, either you pay about $11 a day to watch TV on an eight-inch hospital screen, or rent it for $129.50 for three weeks. And you cannot bring one from home, either.

All my friend wanted to do was to watch sports. Here she was, this lovely woman, dying from the awful cancer that was destroying her body.  We had a visit I will never forget, sharing stories and laughing, and I was the one wiping tears from my face. About a week or so later, I heard she had passed away.

I am outraged that my friend was unable to watch any television during her last few days alive on this planet. I am very upset at the system, those who have the power to deprive dying seniors of enjoying a couple of laughs before they depart.

These patients in palliative care have earned the right to spend their last few days or weeks with dignity and respect. To pull the TV cord out of the wall socket and tell my friend she can’t watch any TV – while trying to just remain alive – is a disgrace and is inhumane.

I happen to work with seniors. White Rock is a seniors destination, and B.C. has the highest number of seniors in Canada. Many seniors are on a budget, and cannot afford any little extras, even if they wanted to.

I asked and was told Fraser Health has authority over cable, and private companies provide the tiny TVs.

If your loved one ends up in palliative care, I suggest you equip him or her with a cellphone, iPad, laptop, headphones, CDs, cassette player and radio, and anything else you can think of, which can provide some type of entertainment. Hopefully, there’s no law against that.

Caroline Suedbeck, White Rock