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CentraCare Team Member Empowered to Complete a Health Care Directive After Losing Her Husband

Published in Hospice Services, For the Health of It, Advance Care Planning Author: CentraCare Senior Transition Specialist and Palliative Care Assistant Kayla Roelike

My path crossed with CentraCare Hospice because of an amazing man — my husband, Russell Roelike.

At the age of 36, Russ had been diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer. He was a playful father of three, a devoted son and a dedicated brother.

He fought hard with the support of his family, friends and CentraCare community. Even though his faith and spirit were strong, his body and the treatments were no longer working properly.

My husband passed away on March 20, 2020.

We had Russ answer Advance Care Planning questions when he was admitted to hospice. Questions like whether he wanted to be resuscitated or who he wanted to select as a health care agent. We also documented any requests he had as he got closer to the end of his life.

At the time it was surreal sitting by his side listening to his answers. But it was also reassuring knowing what his wishes were so I could help fulfill them.

That moment has stayed with me and made me realize how important advance care planning is — especially with three children to care for.

This year, I completed my health care directive. I chose my health care agents and was able to leave personalized wishes for my loved ones, so that there are clearer decisions for everyone.

These choices are hard and they’re a lot to put on someone else. It can be intimidating to fill out the paperwork, but now my voice can be heard and my wishes fulfilled. No one will have to worry about speaking for me or wonder what I would want — they will already know.

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