therapist, speech therapist—all these
The speech therapist showed Laurel-
Anne a way of communicating with Neal
after he lost the ability to speak. “They
just kept moving with us,” she says.
The Community Paramedic program,and the EMS Palliative and End-of-LifeCare Assess, Treat and Refer programare two fairly new Alberta HealthServices programs that also maintainedNeal’s quality of life. Before he was inthe programs, he went to the hospitalfor intravenous treatment. Instead,paramedics came to the Millis home,once seven days in a row, to give himhis IV treatments. “The programs madean important difference to his quality oflife,” Laurel-Anne says.
This support from family, as well as
home care and palliative care teams,
let regular life unfold at the Millis
household. “We still had lots of fun,”
Laurel-Anne says. “He was just a really
neat man. Neal always had a wonderful
sense of humour, and he also accepted
Late one evening in 2015, Laurel-Anne
sensed her husband’s life was slipping
away, so she gathered everyone close.
“We stayed there with him until he took
his last breath,” she says. “It was so
Neal was a week shy of his 68th
birthday. “I think his was as good a
death as you could have had,” Laurel-
Anne says. “It was better than we could
I made her a promise . . .
she would not die alone
Art and Paulette Platt were at theirtrailer on Slave Lake in the summer of2017 when Paulette, active and vibrantat 66, noticed a nagging pain. “She hadthis backache and the backache didn’t goaway,” Art says.
She was diagnosed with terminal
cancer in October 2017. Married for 46
years, the pair had been inseparable since
meeting as teenagers in Windsor, Ont.
“We were very, very close,” Art says. “I
made her a promise that when she died, I
That November, when Paulette started
her treatments, the couple met Marilyn
Oishi, a nurse practitioner and palliative
care specialist, at the Edson Healthcare
His was as good a death
as you could have had
Neal Millis was diagnosed with multiplesystem atrophy, an aggressive formof Parkinson’s disease, in 2012. As thedisease took hold, he and his familylooked for healthcare that could maintainhis quality of life and allow for a peacefuldeath.
“He was still biking in 2010 and in
2015 he couldn't scratch his nose,” saysLaurel-Anne Millis, his wife of 35 years.
Neal’s rapid deterioration meant theyneeded a live-in caregiver, someone whocould adapt along with him from oneweek to the next. With the support fromthe Alberta Health Services home careprogram, they hired Mildred Hitosis, ahealth care aide. “We got a wonderful,wonderful lady who moved in with usand who would go to the end of theearth for him,” Laurel-Anne says.
The Millises’ southwest Calgaryhome was outfitted with mechanizedlifts, wheelchairs and other essentialequipment. Laurel-Anne describes a castof specialists who visited Neal regularly.“You have a case manager, who is tiedinto the physiotherapist, occupational
Here, Albertans share powerful stories of losinga partner and what made a difference duringthat difficult journey