Transcribed by Krysta-Leigh Thames, Communications and Marketing Student
My name is Catherine Ho and I am a volunteer for SCHC Palliative Care Program and I have been doing this for over 20 years now.
I chose to volunteer in palliative care because of my mother. I was taking care of her when she passed away in 1997 and that was the year when I started volunteering in palliative care.
I was regretting that I couldn’t be with her all of the time and thought that people who are at the end of their life should have someone to talk to. I also enjoying learning from the people that I volunteer with.
I am a now a happy retiree, not working. Before, I was the administrative assistant for long term care facilities for about 20 years. I dance with the Hawaiian group from the Active Living Centre. We perform for some of the nursing homes and also for some seniors groups and a community picnic coming up.
When I was younger, I volunteered with children and youth. I was very pleased to assist the disabled kids. Now that I am older, I have changed to looking after palliative care patients. Sometimes they aren’t that old. I have clients who are only about 40. That’s the hardest one that I have done.
I had a happy ending with a client who had a brain tumor and is still alive as his cancer is still in remission. He has two sons now and is still on this earth. It is a miracle. I still go and visit them. They always call me sister.
There is a gentleman who is a truck driver who changed my perspective on life. I usually go to his home to make toast and muffins with peanut butter. He regrets that he had a hard life and told me about how dangerous it is on highways and how many heads he saw. He made me more careful about my health.
For support I go to the coordinator, Betty-Ann. She is always so welcoming and supportive. She is always good to us. She gives us (Volunteers) support and encouragement while helping us feel like we belong.
At home I have my best friend- my husband. He is also very supportive of my work and gives me hugs. Plus, we have the other volunteers. Every time we have a meet and greet, we talk about feelings, not necessarily the clients.
I volunteer because I feel I can help people. I love helping them and I always learn something from them. I no longer fear death. I think I know when it’s a good death so that helps me as far as my illness is concerned which helps me to be a better person.
I’ve gone through two life-threatening diseases and the return of my cancer. Since I am still living, I think when [death] comes it comes. I no longer worry about life or death.
For me, a good life is when you live your life without regrets while always trying to be a very kind and happy person all the time. I try to be content with whatever I have and be grateful. If I was to give advice to another volunteer it would be just be yourself and be compassionate.