Written by Janet Edmison, first published in TLP's 2014 Annual Report, Spring 2015.
After over a decade of fighting different forms of lymphoma, Tom Steele was dying – and he wanted to do it at home. Today, over two years since his passing at the North Shore Hospice, his daughter, Victoria, returns to the hospice every other week as a volunteer with The Lipstick Project.
“When my dad knew he was terminal, all he wanted was to go home,” Victoria remembers. “He was paralyzed and we knew he couldn’t come to our house, so we began to look for a home-like environment with top-notch medical care. That’s when we found the North Shore Hospice.”
At the North Shore Hospice, Victoria and her family learned quickly that in the last days of someone’s life, it’s the small things that become the big things.
“At the Hospice, my dad could Skype with his friends around the world from his bed, and my brother and I could sleep next to him on a pull-out bed in his room,” Victoria says. “One day, he even had his friends come and they drank whiskey and played guitar for him. He couldn’t remember it all the next day, but in the moment you knew he was loving every second. Anything we needed or wanted, the staff at the Hospice made happen – no request was too big or too small.”
Tom passed away in December 2013, and Victoria has chosen to remember him and honour families going through similar experiences by giving back to the hospice community.
“What we do is so simple, but having lived through the passing of my father, I know that how we show love and give love to people through something as simple as a haircut or massage is hugely important,” Victoria explains. “To be here in the hospice every week and to show compassionate care to those who are struggling is a way for me to move forward in my journey and to walk alongside those who are hurting. It seems small, but when it comes down to it, it’s the small things that are really the big things.”
The seemingly small things, like hair cuts or nail trims, mean a lot in those final days and weeks of life. Victoria and her volunteer team at the North Shore Hospice provided these small yet significant services to more than 100 patients in 2014.
Thank you to Victoria for sharing her inspiration. Our volunteers and community of supporters each have a TLP story of their own, and we are deeply grateful for each and every one of them.