No One Wants to Die, Alone

By Nicole Armstrong on June 3 / 2015

[Cancer, Cancer Coaching, Caregivers]Comments

When I first heard of the cancer coaching program, I cried.

I cried with relief. I cried that someone cares. I cried because someone took the initiative and created a much needed coaching program.

What do you say to your sister when she shares “I’m scared I won’t make it for the birth of my first grandson”?

How do you respond to her email “… I have all these ideas in my head … I feel as if my body is trying to tell me to let go.” What do you do when you hear her struggling? “ … I was in tears – I did not want to take it [chemo] anymore … the pharmacist explained that today was a very small one.”

What do you do when you no longer have any words of wisdom – when feel you have reached a level of incompetence? Where do you go for guidance?

To witness and accompany someone you love dearly on their journey to the next world is a choice and a privilege, and by far one of the most challenging experiences you will face, emotionally and psychologically. You can easily get lost in the turmoil. At times you feel helpless. You know you will survive. You know time will help you heal and adapt to this new loss in your life. But, what about your loved one? How can you better support them on their journey? How can you contribute to a good death?

When I first heard of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s Cancer Coaching program, I had just completed the first draft of my memoir, No one wants to die, alone: When a loved one is faced with terminal cancer. The following reader reaction sums up the book’s impact:

“This is the story of Carmen, who loses her life to lung cancer at age 60. Told by her sister Nicole, it is a gut-wrenching account of Carmen’s final year and her family’s journey through this crisis with her. The story is graphic, often humorous, and always intensely moving. Above all, it’s a love story – about the unbreakable bond between two sisters, about the strength of sibling ties, about the power of maternal love and most movingly, about the incredible devotion of the man for whom Carmen is a life-long love.”

I was writing No one wants to die, alone to help others struggling the same way as my family. I knew our story could be anyone’s journey.

My book is meant to raise awareness on end-of-life issues, to shed light on the complicated process of facing terminal illness and how loved ones are affected, and to provide insight into the grieving process. It’s intended to help you recognize the opportunities for you and your loved one during such terrifying times.

I am gratified that No one wants to die, alone will be used as a resource tool by the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation for Cancer Coaches and families. Their Cancer Coaching program is the only one of its kind in Canada. It is designed to assist patients and those closest to them by focussing on the individual’s needs to meet the challenges of cancer. I believe my sister and I would have benefited from such personalized coaching.

Although still in its nascent phase, this program needs financial resources to continue to thrive and expand. With the support of caring individuals, I believe our efforts will help create a more compassionate community where families are better prepared to support their loved one; where health care professionals have access to resources to enhance their skill set and better support their patients.

Until a cure for cancer is found, join me in making a difference and help the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation address the needs of local patients, survivors and their families … help them help you – your loved ones – your friends – your neighbours.

Someone you care about is faced with terminal cancer or is affected by their loved one’s diagnosis. No one wants to die, alone may help you better understand how it is changing their lives and how you can best support them.

Buy a copy for yourself or for a friend directly from the Foundation at www.ottawacancer.ca/nicolearmstrong.aspx. Visit my website at www.armstrongnicole.ca.

I thank you in advance for your generosity and for sharing my story. I wish you health. I wish you love.

Nicole

NICOLE ARMSTRONG lost her father to lung cancer. Over a decade later she lost her sister to the same disease. Nicole resides in Manotick, Ontario with her husband. No one wants to die, alone is her first book. Proceeds from the book will be donated to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation in support of their coaching program.

“I stand in awe of Nicole’s honesty and courage. I also admire of her gentle voice as both a writer and teacher. This poignant story about entering the abyss of cancer will move and disturb you in the best way. It will help those facing cancer and their loved ones. It is unlike any other personal account of living with cancer that I have ever read. After ten years in this field, No one wants to die, alone changed the way I think about this disease and its impact on our lives.”
– Linda Eagen, President & CEO, Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation

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