Kidney Palliative Care
Improving quality of life
The Shaw family’s experience
The palliative care team met Louis Shaw and his family in 2018 soon after Louis was diagnosed with cancer.
Louis had a large family, 16 kids spread across the county, and loved to tell staff and other patients stories about those kids. The team reached out as many of the children as they could to tell them about the seriousness of Louis’ condition and to organize an in-person meeting at his residence.
At the family meeting, youngest son and Burien resident Ian was elected to be Louis’ Durable Power of Attorney. The team began guiding Ian in his new role, while separately meeting weekly with Louis about his goals and needs.
Louis, who had been told he was too weak to survive chemotherapy, chose to get healthier and stronger. In 2019 was deemed strong enough to start chemotherapy.
As he got stronger, he met less often with the Palliative Care team, and began participating more in the activities he enjoyed and spending time with his family. Having always loved to sing, he joined the choir at his nursing home. Bingo became another pastime. One of Louis’ favorite days was when a group of his kids came and took him out fishing, a favorite pastime that he hadn’t been able to do in years.
COVID-19 restrictions cut Louis off from a lot of personal contact. Though his family spoke with him regularly by phone, in person visits were not allowed. When Ian saw Louis again in person, he did not think that Louis looked healthy, and he feared the worst: the chemotherapy was not working.
“Nobody wants to have that conversation. They [the team] really helped me,” said Ian, about the counsel he received at that time.
The team began meeting with Louis regularly, giving him reprieve from the distancing and isolation from COVID-19 restrictions. In spite of masks and personal protective equipment, “you could feel the warmth in those visits” said Jennifer Christophel Lichti.
During his last year, Louis survived COVID-19 but ultimately succumbed to the cancer in fall 2020. The palliative care team was again able to support Ian and the family during that time.
“After Pops passed away, Jennifer checked on me every month or so to talk and see if I was okay. Of course, I wasn’t, but it really helped. Then one day she called, and I told her I thought I was better. She said I sounded better. And I was feeling better,” said Ian. “She still checks in once in a while.”