Kathy Basanese, of West Hartford, was leaving her exercise class six years ago when she felt pain in her abdomen. She figured she must have overdone it. Unfortunately, she was wrong. The pain was caused by a rare form of cancer that caused her appendix to rupture. She did well following surgery and treatment until 2019, when she learned that the cancer had returned.
Chemotherapy slowed the growth of her tumors, but by October of 2021, Kathy found that she no longer had the energy and stamina that she used to.
“I couldn’t take it anymore, as I felt my quality of life was diminishing,” she explained.
The position of the tumors was painful and made it difficult to walk. The chemotherapy was grueling and with her doctor, she decided to forego further treatment and concentrate on improving her quality of life with the help of Hartford HealthCare at Home’s Hospice Care.
Hospice is not about giving up
There may come a time when efforts to cure or slow an illness are not working – and might become more harmful than helpful. If that time comes, palliative care, or hospice care, can be the best alternative to help ensure the final months of life are as painless and fulfilling as they can be for someone with a terminal condition.
Now 73, Kathy weaned off chemotherapy and started treatment prescribed by hospice to eliminate the complications and discomfort she was experiencing.
“I wasn’t as dizzy and I started to better understand my body,” she recalled. “The Hartford HealthCare at Home Hospice team supported me. They determined what medication I would need for pain management and to help restore my energy.”
Living end-of-life to the fullest
When the opportunity came for Kathy to attend her niece’s wedding in California, the Hospice team was ready to help.
Dr. Timothy Joonki Hong, an oncologist with Hartford HealthCare Medical Group, assisted Kathy with getting a handicap parking pass and the hospice team worked with the airline to navigate wheelchair service.
“I am grateful to God, Kathleen McGuire, [Hospice Case Manager] and the hospice team for giving me the emotional support, confidence and tools I needed to travel,” said Kathy.
“The experience was so uplifting that my presence sparked an epic family reunion. Everyone was so inspired and it was the best gathering we had in years.”
Taking control of the future
Hospice is not about giving up; it’s about comfort, control, dignity and quality of life. Kathy shared that her family and grandchildren are what inspired her most.
“My grandsons were able to achieve things in their lives and I thought to myself, I could too. I could sit on the couch and wait to die or live each moment and do it – so I did it. It was absolutely wonderful!”
It does not stop there for Kathy. She has a list of places to travel with her family in the future. Next, she is driving with her husband to visit family in Pennsylvania for Easter. She also has plans to visit family in Colorado and Florida.
“I am not looking through this with rose-colored glasses, I know my tumors can shift and attack something, but I am going to enjoy every moment up until that point. I will not let that fear define me.”