Jennifer’s Story

Jennifer’s mothers name is Barbara and in 2014 doctors found a spot in her lung. However instead of investigating further her doctors decided to “watch it” and Xray again in 3 months. Barbara listened to her doctor’s advice and didn’t question them in fear of “rocking the boat” or “stepping on toes.” Jennifer called her moms doctor to remind them of mom’s chronic cough and suggested a biopsy instead of waiting. Barbs doctor didn’t agree. This was not good enough. So, Jennifer flew her mom from Alberta where she lived to BC where Jen was more familiar with the medical system. Jennifer knew several thoracic doctors and within 3 weeks Barb got her biopsy and surgery to remove the nodule. Unfortunately, not only was it cancer, but her lymph nodes were also positive. Even with treatment Barb was told she had a year to live. She went through 12 rounds of chemo with weekly bloodwork, doctor appointments and CT’s. Afterwards the cancer agency said they had done the protocol and there was nothing more they could offer. Once again, this answer wasn’t good enough. So, Jennifer researched and found an oncologist in North Vancouver doing Immunotherapy which wasn’t a treatment offered at the BC Cancer agency. With Jennifer’s advocacy they accepted her as a patient and started treatment. Barbara maintained a good quality of life and eventually died on Feb 23, 2019 in hospice care at Peace Arch Hospital. With Jennifer’s help Barb outlived her original prognosis and they got to enjoy 5 more years of making memories together.

Jennifer’s grandfather’s name is Arthur and he is a veteran of WWII. In the summer of 2020, he fell and broke his hip. Arthur lived in Vernon BC and at the age of 101 was told he was too old to operate on. He wasn’t able to move back home and needed to go into long term care. Arthur ended up in Lumby BC, all alone, in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Jennifer was his Power of Attorney and primary caregiver. With Covid restrictions she was not allowed to see him and had to do everything from a distance. Jennifer learned that staff had yelled at him for repeatedly pressing his buzzer to go use the bathroom. Staff were instructed he was not to mobilize without a physiotherapist (PT) giving the OK first. However, this particular home had no PT at the time. So, Arthur could not walk without a PT assessment, yet there was no PT on staff to assess him. Arthur lost dignity in being yelled at and told to use a urinal or to void in his incontinence brief. All of this was not good enough. After several calls to the unit staff, and emails with management Jennifer flew to Lumby and had her first of several meetings with the Director of Care. She went through their policy manual and made a written care plan that everyone agreed on. She advocated for Arthurs rights and hired a private PT who came 3 times a week to mobilize him. Arthur died on March 10th 2021. So, Jennifer knows how cruel COVID has been to seniors and their families. But she also knows that patients and families have rights and deserve quality of care.