Patient Care Story for Conrad MacDonald:
I thought that writing this story would be an easy thing to do but quickly realized that it has been one of the most difficult. But, not for the reason that it brings up some very sad memories, but because I really can’t find enough words to really express my thanks and appreciation to Health PEI/Palliative Care.
In Nov 2014, while at home at his condo in Toronto, my son Conrad had a grand mal seizure. Within days, he was diagnosed with having an Astrocytoma Brain Tumour on the frontal lobe of his brain. He was soon operated on and the ‘Grade 4’ tumour was removed. Radiation and Chemotherapy followed at the Princess Margaret hospital in Toronto. It took a long time for Conrad to be able to live a happy “new normal” life, but he did for the next 5 years. Within that time, he was able to switch doctors and became a patient of Dr. James Perry at Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Center in Toronto.
In Feb 2019, a very small tumour returned in the same spot and he was immediately put back on chemo. By April 2020, Conrad was given a clean bill of health and was told that the chemo did its job.
On 20 May 2020, I received a phone call from Conrad telling me that he was having some difficulty with his right arm and leg. He was unable to hold onto a glass of water or pick up anything with his right hand. Within a few days, he had lost complete use of the right side of his body, and an MRI confirmed that he had a large tumour close to his brain stem. This was a very aggressive tumour and because of the location, removing it was not an option. Dr. Perry put Conrad on the drug Avastin, but did indicate that it would only give him more time. The Avastin did begin to work, giving Conrad back limited use of his right arm and leg. On 11 August 2020, Conrad and I returned to PEI.
This is where my story begins with Health PEI. Dr. Sulpher took Conrad on as a patient at the PEI Cancer Treatment Center in Charlottetown, and he was able to continue his Avastin treatments there. But his body soon rejected the treatments and we soon realized that Palliative Care would be needed. His body quickly deteriorated, and he spent a week in the Souris Hospital. But Conrad’s wish was to return home and that we were to make “it” wonderful.
I can barely put into words of how grateful both Jimmy and I were to have Joanne Chisholm and her team, along with the Home Care team and RN’s, that all came to our home to help Conrad. We were faced with so many challenges but Joanne was always there to provide us with everything we could possibly need. Conrad felt very comfortable and supported, not only with his medical needs which were generously covered, but also with his emotional and spiritual needs. Near the end, Conrad had great difficulty in communicating verbally with us, but was still able to give Joanne a thumbs up that he understood what was happening. They all provided such kindness to not only Conrad, but to our entire family and extended family that were around during his illness. Being Conrad’s principal caretaker, there were times that I felt overwhelmed with it all but again, was able to express my emotions with Joanne and her team without being embarrassed or ashamed.
Conrad was 29 years old when he very peacefully passed away at home in Red Point PEI, on 5 November 2020.
For years people have praised the Palliative Care System on PEI, but until you have actually used it, you can never really appreciate how truly wonderful it actually is. In closing, my sincere thanks and gratitude goes out to Dr. Malone who graciously gave his time and friendship to Conrad. We looked forward to his many visits, providing such excellent care of my son and his kindness will never be forgotten.
All of this happened during Covid, and we were still provided with excellent care and attention from the services available in the Eastern Kings Region. Donations to the Eastern Kings Health Foundation support these varied programs and ensure patients receive the care and comfort that they deserve.
With Love and Gratitude,