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Finding joy amid the heartache

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Agape House will always have a special place in Diane DeRosa's heart.

Just over a year ago she learnt her son, Troy Caines, had stage four prostate cancer.

Agape House and its support charity, Friends of Hospice, have been there for her family ever since.

“It's been wonderful for him,” the 73-year-old said. “I'm not a young mother. My husband and I have issues of our own so the time he spends there gets him out of the house and gives me a little break. Because I never had to deal with cancer like this before I was at a loss [when I found out].

“He's my only child. I kept wondering, ‘What can I do now?' I would get angry wondering, ‘Why me?' But the people at Agape House were wonderful. They're so great with patients.”

The hospice has provided palliative care since 1994. There are nine inpatient beds for terminal patients; caregivers tend to their physical symptoms and “emotional, spiritual and social needs”.

Mr Caines, 55, was given a clean bill of health by doctors until last year.

“He didn't have regular check-ups like he should have but he was checked five or six months before and he was clear,” Mrs DeRosa said. “We came back from vacation and he said he didn't feel good. We took him to hospital and he was [given another clean bill of health].

“It wasn't until a number of weeks later that they told him he had stage four cancer. His doctor was amazed. He doesn't have that long. I'm thinking this is his last Christmas. He has a lot of tumours in his body and has to go to hospital periodically to get more blood [which] keeps his strength up.”

Her advice is that men keep on top of their health with regular examinations.

“I tell everybody over the age of 45 to get checked out. You never know,” she said.

“And for those like me who are suffering, Friends of Hospice is a good thing. I would really encourage people who are going through anything like what I am to attend [the Saturday support meetings] even if they can't be there every week. It's nice to know you're not the only one going through this.

“Friends of Hospice and Agape House have been so wonderful, really supportive and the volunteers are also wonderful.”

• Agape House opens its doors to residents who are unwell and at home every Monday. Patients are referred by PALS nurses or Sharon Alikhani, the palliative and hospice care physician for Bermuda. Transportation is provided by volunteers from PALS and Friends of Hospice.

• The caregivers programme resumes on Saturday, January 9. For more information telephone 232-0859 or e-mail friendsofhospice@bhb.bm.

Hospice care: Troy Caines, 55, who has prostate cancer, is one of the many patients assisted by Agape House. His family praises their help as “wonderful” (Photograph supplied)
Forever in our hearts: the Christmas tree at Agape House is a symbol of memories for those who have loved and lost someone (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Fond memories: the Christmas tree at Agape House has messages from those who have loved and lost someone (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Helping hand: Agape House has provided palliative care since 1994 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
<p>Show your support</p>

Looking for a charity to support this Christmas? Agape House’s Friends of Hospice has a list of needed items:

• Travel-size: dry shampoo, liquid soap, body wash, lotion, baby powder, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving cream and disposable razors

• Combs, hairbrushes

• Large boxes of tissues

• Adult-size socks with floor grips

• Adult-size Pull-ups/Depends

• Baby wipes

• Lysol wipes

• Small notebooks for patients, visitors to leave messages

• Supermarket gift certificates for vegetables

• Bags of individually wrapped candy

• Green, flavoured and regular tea

• Letter size printer paper (8x11)

• One business size flip chart

• Two air conditioners: 19x14 and 14 5/8 inches by 20.5 inches

• Acrylic paints, modelling clay (air-dry preferred), artist quality paint brushes, wood photo frames for mosaics projects, beads for jewellery-making, silk rounds for painting, manicure kits, nail polish assortment

• Pots and frying pans; one hand blender; a pressure cooker; two Pyrex baking dishes; two regular size loaf pans; two 12-muffin pans

• Cutlery, especially teaspoons

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Published December 23, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 23, 2015 at 9:36 am)

Finding joy amid the heartache

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