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Mid-Michigan hospice patient crosses item off bucket list

Posted at 6:07 AM, Sep 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-13 06:07:48-04

A Mid-Michigan hospice patient was able to cross an item off her bucket list Wednesday, the opportunity to take a ride on a pontoon with family.

“I love the water; I’ve never been around it that much,” said Chris VanBelois, a hospice patient.

It was a big day for VanBelois, taking a trip back in time.

“We used to have a cottage on Lake Cadillac,” said VanBelois. “That one summer we did use it a lot and the kids would all come up and the grandkids and we did a lot of cookouts.”

Campassus Hospice and Palliative Care made the adventure possible, replacing retirement home walls with sights and sounds of Pure Michigan.

“It brings them back to a time where they are happier, it brings about great memories and lets her really enjoy life,” said Amy Kunzelman, executive director of Compassus. “That’s really what hospice is about. Hospice isn't about dying; hospice is about taking care of our patients and family so that they can enjoy the time that they have.”

VanBelois' daughter came along for the ride, making for quality mother-daughter time.

“She really enjoyed it,” said Victoria VanBelois. “Very peaceful and relaxed; it brought back a lot of memories for her.”

It didn't end at just the ride, though. The captain gave up his seat while on the trip.

“I thought that would be a good idea; I think she enjoyed it,” said Brad Hutton. “She smiled quite a bit. It was nice to see that.”

After all, smiles is what hospice and palliative care is all about.

“It’s not about a death sentence, it’s not about the last week or days of life,” said Kunzelman. “It’s much longer for that, in many cases, allowing us to be a part of that, and give them some relief and comfort is really important.”

Compassus says they've started to do more things like this and are planning more adventures in the future.