Ten years ago, after some careful questions from Isabelle (Greg’s Mother) and I, Greg told us about the potential diagnosis of Testicular Cancer. Previously we had thought it was a muscle injury in his back. We didn’t not know how little time we were going to have with him. We tried to be as helpful and supportive as we could be, until more gaps in his care took us away from each other.
Greg was a sensitive, respectful, and optimistic person who was always supportive of the people around him. He had great plans, always thinking about how things could be made better.
Following Greg’s sudden and premature death, we all felt a tremendous sense of loss. We have each traveled our individual grieving journey since then. For me, there were a few, very powerful emotions and a huge, energy sapping hole in my chest. The hole remains today but it has shrunk some and is less pervasive although not a day goes by that we don’t think about him and what he would be doing today.
It took years before it felt ok to laugh or feel joy, even though our extended family was tremendous through this hard time. Our family’s journey has been to try and improve the situation in the health sector so that the gaps Greg fell through would be closed for future patients. Through this, we have met many wonderful people including those that have been working on the same cause long before we joined this effort. Some have become dear friends and allies.
In the early years, we asked lots of questions and tried to learn as much as we could about what had happened to Greg. We learned then and are still finding now, that almost all the cracks that Greg fell through remain in the health sector today. Good people and their strong efforts to improve continue to be stymied by a defensiveness and resistance to change driven by a political culture of command and control.
The most shocking early revelation though, is the fact that the safety of patients and providers is not the top priority in the health sector. This is very sad for we know that there are continuing to be many more families grieving their loss. It also means that some of the best care givers are also leaving our health care, after attempting to shoulder an impossible burden to do the right thing with patients and families despite the terrible structure and processes in the health treatment sector.
Greg always looked to the future, and he kept in his “book of everything” quotes to live by. I have chosen two which I think are quite telling about the person he tried to be.
“A century from now it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, or how much money I had in the bank… But one hundred years from now the world may be a better place because I was important in the life of a child.”Forest Witcraft
“My best friend is the one that brings out the best in me.”Henry Ford
At Greg’s memorial, almost 10 years ago now, people who knew Greg spoke of how he made the teams better that he was a part of, and how as individuals, he made them feel special.
We continue to work to honour him and his legacy by trying to be part of a growing and increasingly powerful team working for positive and critically important change toward safe care of patients, their families and loved ones, and of those who also work with them on their care team.
We hope that you will join in the effort to:
- Put safety first
- Learn from experiences – positive and not
- Work together to toward a new health care world built on the foundation of collaboration and partnerships of teamwork throughout whole person health care
– Dave Price