Always smiling, joyful and a truly kind and loving soul. That’s how the community, his family and Jim Aho will always remember his late husband, Scott Schlosser. Scott took pride in bringing beauty and joy to peoples’ lives through his design and decorating company Anex Interiors. His amazing creative ability always left a warm impression on those fortunate enough to have met him. However, at age 44 Scott’s health changed suddenly. A long battle with cancer eventually took him to the compassionate arms of Regina Hospital’s palliative care team.
In 2017 Scott began feeling pain in his tailbone and was having some bowel troubles. He sought out his doctor for medical advice, underwent various tests, and it was eventually revealed in February of 2018 that Scott had colorectal cancer. Upon finding out this news, Scott and Jim didn’t hesitate in their commitment to each other and their dedication to fight this disease together. The cancer was already in an advanced state and after an initial procedure to insert a colostomy bag to assist bowel movements, Scott underwent radiation treatment in an attempt to shrink the cancerous tumor. Unfortunately, his cancer was not responding to the treatment and it was recommended that Scott undergo surgery to remove the tumor and a section of his bowel.
“It was terrifying knowing Scott had to have this procedure.” Jim recalls. “Luckily, he had an amazing doctor and medical team and was under such wonderful care. We are so fortunate to have facilities like our Hospitals and the Allan Blair Cancer Centre here in Regina. The level of care from the doctors, nurses and staff was unbelievable.”
After Scott’s surgery at the Pasqua Hospital (Dr. Andrey Vizhul) to remove the tumor, he then had to undergo further chemotherapy bi-weekly until Christmas of 2018. Then in February 2019, Scott received some good news. His recent tests had come back negative. The wonderful feeling of happiness and relief that comes with positive news would last approximately six weeks, as Scott and Jim felt they had a new lease on life. Unfortunately, again Scott felt like something might be wrong with his health, and further tests confirmed that the cancer had returned and in a more aggressive state than before. In July of 2019 it was recommended that Scott undergo a second surgery to remove another tumor. While undergoing testing for this procedure, it was found that the cancer had now spread into Scott’s lymph nodes and his cancer was deemed to be terminal.
Throughout this battle, Jim was there for Scott unwaveringly, and together they chose palliative home care for Scott for as long as possible. Jim recalls how warm and compassionate the nurses were who came into their home to assist them. After a period of time in palliative home care Scott’s condition deteriorated. It was after a tube blockage and recurring related intestinal issues, Jim realized he could no longer give Scott the level of care he needed at home. Ultimately, the decision was made to move Scott to Grace Hospice, where Jim tells us Scott lived out his final days under incredibly compassionate care, surrounded by family and friends. In honour of Scott’s life, a celebration was held in Regina where some 250 people came to pay their respects. This was just a small glimpse of just how much Scott impacted the community and the people around him.
Having dedicated so much of himself in order to care for Scott, Jim realized he had not properly come to terms with the loneliness that comes with the loss of a loved one. This hit him hard and after two weeks of intense grieving, Jim realized he could not do this on his own. He reached out for help and called the Palliative Care Team at the Pasqua, where he met with Marlene Jackson, the team’s Bereavement Coordinator, Grief Counselor and PTSD Therapist Jim met with Marlene regularly over the course of the next few months and with the aid of her highly specialized skills was able to cope and work through his grief.
“With the support of all the medical staff in the Palliative system, they help you realize that you can get through this… and you’re not alone.” Jim says. “They are there to support you and provide you comfort in life’s most difficult time… and for that I’m truly thankful.”
"We’re happy to report that RBC Foundation committed their support toward the replacement of some palliative unit and home care patient equipment, hosting bereavement retreats as well as professional development for palliative staff. Palliative Care makes an important difference to families and patients every day" says Jessica Rawn, Director Development, Hospitals of Regina Foundation.