My name is Akiko and although you should not ask a woman her age, I am proud to say that I am 85 years old. I have been fairly active all my life; in fact, I played golf until seven months ago. That was when I was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was decided that I needed an operation to remove a tumor. After my operation, the treatment team at Mount Sinai Hospital and I determined that I should receive palliative care. My husband Ellchiro, and I were given a few options and we chose The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC).
When I first arrived, I was confined to a bed, and I was completely dependent on the staff for all my care. Because of the operation, I had a big abdominal incision, which was very painful. My pain had to be managed and I needed oxygen to help me breathe. In time, as the weeks went by, my appetite returned and so did my strength – I began to feel a lot better.
The care I received and continue to receive is exceptional, and I must say the nurses and staff are so attentive and extremely patient. With assistance, I am now able to transfer to a wheelchair, take a shower and walk using a walker. On a few occasions, I have been to recreational therapy, where I participate in a stretching class called “On the Move.” Sometimes I play bingo.
Ellchiro and I have been married for over 60 years and he is very devoted to me. Although the food is good here at TGHC, he knows how much I love Japanese cuisine. So he shops for fresh food at a Japanese grocer and gets up each morning and prepares my meals. Everyday he arrives at 8:00 a.m. with fresh made fish cakes, noodles, vegetables and strawberries. We both believe this has helped with my illness. I think it is a big part of why I am in remission.
During the day, if it is sunny, Ellchiro takes me to the solarium for lunch because he knows the sunshine makes me happy. After, he takes me around on my wheelchair. He stays with me until early evening. I know he is concerned about me when he leaves, but he is confident that I am receiving excellent care. He is so happy at the progress I have made that he proudly displays a recent photograph taken of me.
Ellchiro understands that he cannot take care of me at home. We realize that I may need to go to a long-term palliative care facility, but we are grateful to the nurses and staff at the TGHC for the quality of care we have received and for their efforts to help improve our quality of life.
I lie here in my bed with Ellchiro sitting beside me and it does not seem that long ago where we would wait for a sunny day, quickly make and pack our lunch and then we’d go play golf. I think we miss that very much!