When 91-year-old Irene Piasta of Regina passed away last year after a brief battle with cancer, her daughter Linda lost more than a mother. “She was my best friend, my companion,” Linda explains. “We used to phone each other four times a day. Losing my mom is like losing a huge piece of my heart.”
Irene was born near Ituna in 1929. She and her husband John moved to Regina in 1975, where Irene worked at a women’s clothing store. John passed away in 1993, leaving behind Irene and their two daughters.
“Mom was never sick a day in her life,” Linda reveals. “She didn’t even take any medications! She lived on her own, walked regularly and read a book a day. That’s why her illness came as such a shock.”
Irene started experiencing back pain around Christmas, 2020. By March, the pain had increased to the point where she was taken by ambulance to Regina’s Pasqua Hospital. That’s when the diagnosis of cancer was confirmed.
“We don’t even know how widespread the cancer was,” Linda states. “She didn’t want any treatment, no diagnostic tests, nothing. She just wanted to go out on her own terms, as comfortable and pain free as possible.”
After a short stint in an assisted living facility, Irene returned to Pasqua Hospital in May 2021, this time entering the Palliative Care Unit.
“Mom passed away a couple of weeks later,” Linda says. “But I’m so grateful for the time she had in palliative care. Honestly, the nurses and all the staff there are amazing. I describe them as angels. The work they do in providing care and comfort to terminally ill people and their families is just incredible.”
“I stayed at my mom’s side the entire time,” Linda continues. “She wouldn’t have left me, and there was no way I was leaving her, even though I knew she would be well taken care by the staff in palliative care, regardless.”
“When I die,” Linda continues. “I want every dime I have, all my life savings, to support the work being done in the Palliative Care Unit. They made my mother’s final days easier, and I want to help them do the same for other families in our community. I’m so grateful for their kindness, compassion and professionalism.”
“Linda and Irene’s story is a valuable reminder of the importance of supporting palliative care in our community,” says Jessica Rawn, director of development, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “By supporting our Palliative Care Unit and Palliative Care Homecare Services through the Foundation, our donors and partners are helping making a very difficult time a bit easier for terminally ill patients and their families.”