Cornelis Vanderzalm known to all his family and friends as “Cor” was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in March – in May 2021, he had an operation to remove it. We were happy they got it all. We were so thankful that he beat this! But sadly it didn’t stop the cancer from progressing.
One of the last wishes for Cor was to accompany our son and me on a fishing trip to KIOSK the northern end of Algonquin Park near Mattawa Ont. It was tradition SINCE 1970 camping and fishing with all of us, a place where Cor and the family would go every year and enjoy the beauty of peace, nature and fishing. We managed one last trip in June 2020. Not realizing this would be his last trip there he was so happy.
Because he was very weak and couldn’t go up North to his favourite fishing place, our daughter rented a cottage in September 2021 for one week just so he could go fishing, but it didn’t work out like we hoped! Cor was in a lot of pain on the third day of our stay, the Tylenol no longer worked, at this point we still didn’t know his cancer had progressed, the surgeon had said the stomach pain was normal, wait for the MRI in January!
His stomach was so bad we went home early to see the doctor, no more pussy footing around with this X-ray and tests over the past few months because of stomach pain. He needed an MRI now in September not in January like they wanted! Cor called me his “Mama Bear” and I acted accordingly. My fur started flying when I saw him experiencing such severe symptoms and the time for action was now, something is not right
When I was working as a medical secretary for many years before, I had learned about The Dorothy Ley Hospice and the wonderful work that they did. I was fortunate that a colleague Patti in the building where Corinne works mentioned Dorothy Ley hospice, I got on the phone right away and within a week we were hooked up with the best hospice ever. To have that knowledge and be able to use their resources I thank you! I had helped with my sisters in their dying days and familiar with this type of palliative care.
Cor wanted to die at home and I was able to look after everything with help from our daughter Corinne and her husband George and Son Barrie until the last month he lived. Then we received the best care and help for everything that Cor needed to make him as comfortable as possible. Dorothy Ley hospice care coordinator Joni made a big difference in our daily lives, she helped all of us emotionally, Cor would literally light up when she walked in, we are so grateful to all the nurses and staff at the Dorothy Ley hospice. Cor passed away with all of us by his side. He passed on December 13, 2021 at 3:13 pm and true to his word, he didn’t die on my birthday December 23rd. We were married for 60 years. The missing him will never go away for me or my family, but you folks made it so much easier to see him go without pain.
In our moment of need, The Dorothy Ley Hospice came to us. Daina, the Spiritual Care Coordinator visited us several times and helped us observe some of the traditions that we needed. She provided a guiding light for us and we are very grateful for her presence during Cor’s last hours.
On June 17th, the whole family will rent boats and return to Cor’s special fishing spot in Algonquin Park where he went for many years. We will remember the special man he was and say goodbye. We hope that our Dorothy Ley family members will join us too. They made such a difference in our hours of need.
Thank you for your support