Vern Bradenburg's Story
"Hospice adds so much to my daily life. It's hard to measure, but this place makes me feel better." - Vern Brandenburg
Ridgeview Hospice Helped Vern face the day with a smile. When people asked 84-year-old Vern Brandenburg how he was doing, he would smile and say, “I’m still vertical!” He described himself as a roll-with-the-punches kind of guy, which is why he opted for hospice care instead of further treatment when his cancer returned in January 2019.
Vern passed away in hospice care in September. As a celebration of his life, below are excerpts from an interview with Vern.
Vern had radiation treatment for his initial cancer diagnosis four years ago. When the cancer returned, Vern said, “I knew what radiation was from my first experience. It’s not a cure for my diagnosis. It’s just elimination of pain, and pain is something I can deal with. I’ve had too many friends suffer through treatment and die anyway. I don’t want to put myself and my family through that again.”
Instead, Vern enjoyed the view of Lake Langdon from his cozy Mound apartment and looked forward to frequent visits from a revolving cast of Ridgeview Hospice team members including nurses, home health aides, a chaplain, a massage therapist and a music therapist.
“There’s about half a dozen of them,” Vern explained. He kept track of their visits in a spiral-bound notebook that sat on his dining room table. He appreciated how their visits made him feel better physically, mentally and spiritually.
“Hospice has made my life livable,” Vern said. “It helps me face the day and my neighbors with a smile on my face.”
Vern maintained that smile, even though he had to give up driving six months ago. The cancer progressed to make Vern’s neck so tight that he could no longer turn his head far enough to look for traffic. He was grateful to his massage therapist, Gina, for relieving some of that pain and tension during her weekly visits.
When the weather was nice, Vern and music therapist, Christian, sat outside on the apartment patio by the lake. Vern would relax and listen while Christian played “Old Rugged Cross” or “Old Shep” on his guitar. Not only was Vern impressed by Christian’s knowledge of music, he enjoyed spending time with Christian. “He is so personable, and we talk about a lot of other things besides music,” Vern said.
Vern also enjoyed Chaplain Helmar’s gift of gab. They read and discussed scriptures during their weekly visits. Chaplain Helmar also inspired Vern to write letters to his children filled with special memories that Vern hoped will ease their grief at his passing. “Helmar is still trying to redeem me,” Vern joked. “I enjoy his insights and I always feel better after his visits.”
Ridgeview Hospice helped Vern and so many others cope with end-of-life challenges and fears. “Hospice adds so much to my daily life,” Vern said. “It’s hard to measure, but this place makes me feel better. I am not afraid of dying. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, because I’ve had a good time here, but I accept what is coming.”
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