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Don Kubal’s Story

"Our dad was a very giving person and helped us kids out whenever he could with babysitting or handyman work or anything we needed. He always wanted to make sure his family was well taken care of. Now it was time for us to take care of dad." - Lisa Holt

Don Kubal was diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2016, receiving several rounds of chemo as well as a round of radiation. On Christmas Day 2017, his health began to decline after a mild heart attack. He had been debating starting up immunotherapy before this happened; and because of this and other health issues, he declined further lung cancer treatment or cardiac care. The 85-year-old Korean War veteran told his family he wanted to remain out of the hospital and spend his remaining days in the comfort of his own home in Arlington.

“Our dad was a very giving person and helped us kids out whenever he could with babysitting or handyman work or anything we needed,” recalled Lisa Holt, Don’s daughter. “He always wanted to make sure his family was well taken care of. Now it was time for us to take care of dad.”

The Kubal family knew they would need to coordinate hospice care, so they called who they knew and who they trusted, they called Ridgeview. The Kubals’ first experience with Ridgeview Hospice was three years earlier with Don’s wife, Shirley.

Don’s beloved wife, Shirley, worked at Ridgeview Sibley Medical Center, formerly Arlington Hospital, as an LPN for 45 years. In 1997, Shirley was diagnosed with breast cancer. She received multiple types of chemo, was hospitalized a couple times, and would be in and out of remission for 17 years. In August 2014, her cancer metastasized and she had exhausted all avenues of treatment.

After meeting with the care coordinator at Ridgeview Sibley and Shirley expressing her desire to remain in her home, Don and his children coordinated hospice care with Ridgeview to ensure Shirley was comfortable and her wish to remain at home could be a reality. Shirley passed away in November 2014.

“We were so happy with the compassionate care that mom received through the hospice program,” Lisa said. “We found comfort in knowing Ridgeview would be taking care of dad too.”

Don and his family appreciated Ridgeview’s patient and family-centered approach that embraces the physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of care. In the six months that Don received care, he became close friends with the members of the Ridgeview Hospice team.

“Our dad loved them all! The time they took, the care and reassurance they gave, the conversations they had, all truly eased his mind and heart,” Lisa recalled. “Ridgeview also was a big help to me. I knew I could always call and would get whatever questions I had answered or any assistance I needed with my dad to happen.”

Don looked forward to his time with his care team, enjoying visits with the nurses, home health aides, social workers, volunteers and the chaplain. Beyond receiving pain management care at home, Don’s team helped perform some of the activities of daily living and basic routine, administered massage therapy, helped with medications and provided spiritual support.

“Dad was at peace with his decision to stop treatments and go home to start hospice care,” Lisa said. “He really missed my mom, he was ready to go see her.”

But, true to his family-man nature, Don set a goal to live long enough to meet and hold his soon-to-be-born great-grandson. With the help of his loving family, supportive friends and the Ridgeview Hospice team, Don achieved this goal with great excitement – holding Colton, born May 4, 2018 - before passing away in June 2018.

Ridgeview Hospice brings a team of kind, compassionate and intuitive experts to the patient’s home to enhance quality of life and to bring peace, comfort and dignity to those at end of life. Ridgeview Hospice team comes alongside families to assist patients in living as comfortable as possible, relieving pain, and providing nurturing, individualized care. Please consider supporting Ridgeview Hospice to help ensure our community, families and friends have access to the comforts and expertise of hospice care for years to come.

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