EOLPodcast

Ep. 277 Seven Year Summer: A Memoir of Two Life and Death Journeys with Anna Byrne

Learn how a long journey through cancer prepared Anna to be a hospice volunteer and inspired her spiritual growth.

My guest Anna Byrne holds a combined degree in Psychology and Gerontology, is a certified teacher, and has been a coordinator for a hospice society in British Columbia. She survived 4 cancer diagnoses in her 30’s and then worked as a volunteer for an elderly hospice patient throughout one entire summer. She is the author of the book Seven Year Summer which tells the story of her own journey through cancer and her days of sitting at Eleanor’s bedside, discussing life and the approach of death. Learn more at her website:

https://annabyrne2.wixsite.com/mysite

Get the book here

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Anna’s perspective on cancer changed throughout her 4 diagnoses
  • The “hero’s journey” of cancer treatment and how it fell apart for Anna
  • The spiritual tools and support that helped Anna navigate her illness and losses
  • The use of “battle” metaphors in medicine and how they cause harm
  • The difference between curing and healing
  • How Anna’s suffering prepared her to be a hospice volunteer for Eleanor
  • The difference between chronos and kairos time
  • How caregivers can better support patients who are facing the end of life
  • How writing the book helped Anna heal some of the trauma of her cancer journey

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • The Conference on Death and Bereavement Studies: A Professional Development Symposium – January 10, 2021 Learn more here
  • Spiritual Journeys in Chronic Illness Course – with Terri Daniels – starts January 7th Learn more here
  • Sign up for the 2021 online reading group A Year of Reading Dangerously at this link
  • Support you local bookstore by buying my books on Bookshop and Indiebound: 7 Lessons for Living from the Dying and The Journey from Ego to Soul
  • Subscribe to this podcast on AppleGoogleSpotifyiHeart RadioStitcher Radio
  • Check out the Series I’ve recorded in the past here
  • Join the team at Patreon.com/eolu and get access to the EOLU mug“Mind if we talk about death?” (only Patrons can purchase it). PLUS get our new bonuses: the monthly EOL News Update, movie reviews from 2 Doctors and a Movie, and automatic access to A Year of Reading Dangerously!

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference!

EOLPodcast, Grief, Spirituality

Ep. 266 Leave Your Light On: The Life and Afterlife of Ryder Buck with Shelley Buck and Kathy Curtis

Learn about the journey of a remarkable young musician through cancer, death and the afterlife and how he continues to inspire people.

My guests Shelley Buck and Kathy Curtis are the co-authors of the book Leave Your Light On, which details the journey of Shelley’s son Ryder through cancer and his subsequent death in a terrible accident. They discuss the process of writing this book as a healing practice for grief, the spiritual transformation experienced by Ryder after his cancer diagnosis, and how people around the world have been inspired by his story both before and after his death. They have turned a tragic story into transcendence that lights the way for all of us who are feeling lost in the darkness right now. Learn more at these websites:

www.ryderbuckmusic.com and www.kathycurtisink.com

Get the book Leave Your Light On here

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How writing can help us heal grief, illness and loss
  • Ryder’s story and how music became a medium for him to share his message with the world
  • How his cancer journey accelerated Ryder’s spiritual growth
  • The challenges of being a mother to a young adult facing cancer and wanting his independence
  • How Shelley negotiated being “cancer mom” and also caring for her two younger sons at the same time
  • The amazing and synchronistic ways Ryder has communicated since his death and how those experiences have helped his parents with their grief
  • Tips for using writing as a healing medium
  • Three mantras for navigating these times of darkness from songs Ryder wrote or inspired

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Register for FREE Level 1 Doula Training here
  • Register for Certified End-of-Life Doula Training here
  • Find Ryder Buck’s music here
  • Get the book Leave Your Light On here
  • Gia’s song for Ryder: Ryde This WaveListen here
  • Song from Frozen 2: The Next Right ThingListen here
  • Subscribe to this podcast on AppleGoogleSpotifyiHeart RadioStitcher Radio
  • Check out the Series I’ve recorded in the past here
  • Join the team at Patreon.com/eolu and get access to the EOLU mug“Mind if we talk about death?” (only Patrons can purchase it). PLUS get our new bonuses: the monthly EOL News Update, movie reviews from 2 Doctors and a Movie, and automatic access to A Year of Reading Dangerously!

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference!

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Hospice

Ep. 62 October End-of-Month Update – Halloween Edition

 

Dr. Wyatt thanks her newest Patreon.com supporter Tracy Zagata. You can become a supporter as well by going to Patreon.com/eolu and signing up!

Sign up for Death Expo which will take place Nov. 10-13, and hear 12 speakers on EOL issues. Go to DeathExpo.com to register free to tune in to these excellent presentations.

This episode is taking place on Halloween and the Day of the Dead. Dr. Wyatt includes the following updates:

  • CMS report 52% increase in Medicare spending on hospice between 2007 and 2015 due to 38% increase in the number of patients receiving hospice care, primarily patients with dementia
  • the DEA is mandating 34% decrease in opioid production due to dramatic increase in opioid-related deaths since 1999 – rate has quadrupled during that time frame
  • JAMA Oncology reports that the cost of secobarbital, the drug most frequently prescribed in assisted dying cases, has increased by $25oo; there is no explanation except that drug companies can get away with it
  • California is the first state to require that palliative care teams have a chaplain for those patients who want to receive spiritual care
  • Debra Beaulieu writes in HealthLeaders Media that all clinicians should know the following about palliative care: 1) that it’s not just for dying patients 2) that it is often underutilized and 3) all clinicians should have basic palliative care skills
  • Study in J. Palliative Med showed that home-based palliative care (as opposed to hospital-based care) meets more of patients’ needs in the last 3 months of life and costs $12,000 less per patient
  • Controversial “doll therapy” for dementia patients
  • Study shows that 11% of female caregivers over the age of 50 have to leave their employment to fulfill caregiver duties, costing $300,000 in lost wages, benefits, and Social Security over time
  • Census data reveals that currently 25% of seniors are considered “Elder Orphans,” meaning that they have no children or close family to care for them; these numbers will only grow as Baby Boomers age, reinforcing the need for more caregivers
  • Medicare Care Choice Pilot Program is currently underway; patients can receive home-hospice care while continuing curative treatments if they have a diagnosis of cancer, COPD, CHF, or HIV; there are 140 participating hospices in the program
  • Survey shows that 1/2 of MS patients would consider medically assisted dying in the case of unbearable pain, being a financial burden to others, or if unable to enjoy what makes life worth living
  • Study reveals the 69% of MOLST or POLST forms have incomplete information and 14% have conflicting choices, making them nearly impossible for care providers to follow
  • the nation’s first conference on VSED was held in October at the Seattle U. School of Law and was featured in an article in the NY Times. Phyllis Shacter was a speaker – you can hear her EOLU interview in episode 25
  • Conversation Sabbath will take place November 11-20 with >30 congregations from various faiths participating; the focus will be on EOL conversations and theconversationproject.org will provide tools and resources for the event
  • Andrew Henderson, 28 year old performance artist who is terminally ill has created an art performance called Taking it to the Grave and will tattoo the secrets of his audience on his body before he dies
  • Miss Norma, the 90 year old woman who chose to go on a cross-country RV tour with her son and daughter-in-law rather than undergo treatment for cancer, has died

Have a safe and meaningful Day of the Dead! Tune in every Monday for a new episode and support EOLU at Patreon.com/eolu. Until next week remember to:

Face Your Fears.                 BE Ready.                Love Your Life.

 

Hospice, Spirituality

Two Months to Live

As I write this my friend has just left the doctor’s office and returned to her part-time home in our community. She has learned in the last few moments that her cancer has recurred and is rapidly growing in her abdomen. For the next two days she will be packing up her belongings and loading the car for a long road-trip back home, where she will have to tell her family her shocking news: she is expected to live for just a few more months.

The calendar slips from her hands, along with her plans for the rest of the year: a college reunion during the summer, an autumn trip to Europe, a journal article she planned to write, a research project she intended to complete …

Everything has changed now. She moves slowly through the mundane motions of this day, in dazed confusion: folding the laundry, organizing the grocery list, sweeping the floor … But wait, does it matter? Does any of this matter?

She sorts through the belongings in her home, one-by-one: a book (I’ve read this three times), a teapot (My mother-in-law gave this to me), an old sweater (I got this on our trip to Alaska), and photographs … so many photographs. Each item surveyed and analyzed. Do these things really matter?

She is talking too quickly now, her mind jumping from subject to subject, trying to avoid the looming, inevitable reality that will overshadow and consume everything in its path over the next few weeks. Her conversation seems almost nonsensical to me as I struggle to grasp what is going through her mind at this moment.

She is all alone now. She has entered a place where her family and friends, no matter how close they are, cannot go. As a hospice physician I have walked this path with many patients in the past. And though the scenery has varied with each person, I have noticed certain landmarks throughout each  journey.

I cannot change my friend’s path or take away her suffering. I can only wait with her and watch and pray. For these coming days I shall look through her eyes and feel through her heart, observing life and all its oddities; noticing, while looking back from the perspective of death, what of this life really matters?