Facility aids patient in handling end of life


POSTED: Thursday, November 13, 2008

Agnes Quintos, who has cancer throughout her body, says she is “;not afraid when my end comes.”;





Hospice events

        Many free events are scheduled in November - National Hospice and Palliative Care month. Among those on Oahu:


» “;A Rose for Remembrance”; interdenominational memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow at St. Theresa Church for family and friends of patients served in the St. Francis Hospice program.


» “;Caring for Yourself and Others During the Grief Journey,”; a workshop for survivors of organ and tissue donors, will be from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Andrew's Cathedral Church. RSVP to the Organ Donor Center of Hawaii, 599-7630.


» St. Francis Hospice will present the film “;Gifts of Grief”; with Nancee Sobonya from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the University of Hawaii Manoa, Spalding Auditorium. Free admission.


For information about other events, palliative care and advance care planning, call Kokua Mau, 585-9977 or (800) 474-2114, or see www.kokuamau.org.



Married with two adult children, the 55-year-old Makiki woman has received palliative care from the Queen's Medical Center since she was diagnosed with a rare cancer in November 2002.

Her thyroid was the original site, but by the time it was diagnosed, it had metastasized, she said.

Quintos said she does not know what she would have done without Dr. Daniel Fischberg, Queen's medical director of pain and palliative care, and his team. “;He's a godsend; he's my angel,”; she said.

A brain tumor was removed in 2005, and she suffers “;real bad, bad pains”; in her stomach and other cancer sites, including her liver, pancreas, the bone of her left leg and her throat, she said.

“;The palliative department has me on pain medication, and finally we were able to get something to keep me at bay, not having as much pain and suffering as I did have,”; she said.

She told Fischberg her Christmas wish is “;to be pain-free for a week ... but look how blessed we are. The main thing is we have another blessed day.”;

She has talked with Fischberg and palliative oncology nurse Beth Freitas “;about when my time comes and how my hospice will be. ... I've made my own decisions how I want my end to be,”; Quintos said. “;My family doesn't have to worry about anything.”;

Her children, Chris, 28, and Helen, 31, “;always felt Mom is the rock, Mom is the go-to guy,”; she said. “;If you have a problem, talk to Mom and Mom will find an answer. For Mom to have this disease and know there's no cure and seeing me where I am is so hard for them.”;

Her parents are in denial, she said. “;They believe I'm going to beat this ... and I think that's good for them to hold onto.”; Her husband, Thomas, does not say much, she said, “;but I know he's scared.”;

The palliative team met with her family and discussed her wishes and hospice care, she said. “;They have been very gracious towards my family and very kind. That really, really helped.”;

Quintos said she was diagnosed with cancer after going in for a biopsy for a cyst growing inside her jaw area. She sat in her car in the hospital parking lot for a couple of hours after leaving the doctor and “;cried and cried,”; she said. “;I just couldn't believe what was going on.”;

Then Quintos said she “;looked up to the heavens and said, 'OK, God, my pity party is over. ... I don't know what you have in store for me, but whatever it is I will accept.'”;

When she makes her weekly visits to the doctor, she talks to other cancer patients and tries “;to give back the kindness people have given to me,”; she said. “;I tell them there is light at the end of the tunnel. I don't tell them every day is going to be rosy, because it's not.”;

Since her children and husband work, she said, “;I don't want to burden them with my ending, so I'll take my hospice outside. I am at peace. I am not afraid.”;