Shirley’s Story

Diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and having undergone emergency surgery to remove her colon, Shirley was facing an uncertain future. One thing was undeniable: she was a woman in crisis.

A single, 55-year old mom was now burdened with financial challenges – how was she going to afford the colostomy supplies vital to her care and hygiene. Without insurance and with a budget that was already strained, her desperation led her to a local support group for new ostomates. That is where she met Stephanie, the Executive Director of Wholeness House, who was volunteering her time that day at the meeting.

“I saw Shirley sitting in the back of the room. She caught my eye immediately, and after the meeting I went to speak with her.” Their conversation revealed a sad story of delayed treatment and poor guidance from trusted individuals in Shirley’s life allowing the disease to advance from an initial diagnosis of stage 2 to stage 4. With the circumstances being what they were, Stephanie offered a listening ear, compassion and assistance by training her in her ostomy care.

Stephanie made regular visits to Shirley’s home for oversight and support. She accompanied Shirley to chemotherapy and doctors’ appointments and found ways to encourage Shirley during her final six months of life. Also there were visits from several volunteers from Wholeness House who reached out to Shirley and her family during this time as well.

Shirley’s condition deteriorated. The final stages of her disease found Shirley in hospice care with her family by her bedside. They expressed their heartfelt gratitude to Stephanie for her care and concern and for being there with their mother during this lonely and difficult time. “I was amazed how Stephanie reached out to my mom and never asked for anything in return. What a difference this made in my mom’s outlook and mood. She was truly a Godsend.”