“When Terry died, my world for a little bit just crashed”: Bismarck man shares hospice story

Over 1.5 million people were enrolled in Hospice in 2016. And November marks National Hospice Month. 

Hospice gives sick and terminally ill patients a more comfortable experience on what is usually some of their last days of living. Hospice can be a scary and emotional experience for not only patients but family members as well.

I got to talk to, Todd Kuester, who recently lost his wife to cancer and used the hospice service.

He told me about their journey through hospice and how much of a blessing it was for him and his family. He said he couldn’t have made it through without their help.

Todd and Terry Kuester were high school sweethearts. She was the cheerleader and he was the football player. The perfect match. They got married and had 4 kids. One child tragically past away 2 weeks after being born but other than that they seemed to have it all until one day everything changed.
 
“Terry passed out on November 1st three years ago today. Right before she passed out she leaned over to me and said you need to get me to the hospital,” says Kuester.
 
Terry Kuester had 2 tumors growing in her brain and then months later was diagnosed with cancer. She went through surgeries and different chemo treatments. The surgeries were successful and everything was going well for over a year.
 
“Around this time last year the tumor came back.”
 
The tumor came back worse than before. She went back to treatments and tried everything but nothing worked. Kuester said by February of 2018 she couldn’t even walk. He says she couldn’t eat on her own and do other simple tasks anymore. Her vision then started going.
 
“I cooked a chicken breast and would cut it up and she would eat 3 pieces on the right side of the plate and then look at me and say Todd I want more,” says Kuester. “And there were 5 or 6 more pieces on the plate that she couldn’t see. And I sit there and wonder how was that affecting her psyche.”
 
Todd says Terry got to the point where she knew there was nothing else she could do and decided to put herself in hospice.
 
“Then you sit there and go when am I going to die. Because Terry was going to die. Her physical body was shutting down. The tumor was getting to affect too much. So we went on hospice.”
 
Todd said it was ultimately Terry’s decision to get hospice and it was one of the hardest decisions they made together.
 
“When she told the doctor. It was almost as hard as when they told us she had the disease because I knew that meant it was going to be the end.”
 
Todd said hospice was the best thing they could have done. He said during that time he could tell Terry was in a lot less pain. Hospice helped with everything. He says for people that are skeptical about hospice to ask themselves one question.
 
“Do you want to die alone or do you want to die with help. And they not only helped Terry but helped me,” says Kuester.
 
Terry was on hospice for 19 days.
 
“She passed away on March 27th at 3 am. When Terry died my world for a little bit just crashed.”
 
Todd says the first person he called was one of RN’s that worked with hospice. He says they took care of everything for him – from calling the people to get Terry’s body to telling him what to expect next.
 
“At that particular moment your world just crashed. And if I didn’t have hospice I wouldn’t know what to do. I wouldn’t know who to call. So they took care of it all.”
 
Todd says he is truly grateful for hospice and everything they did for him and his family. I asked Todd what Terry would say to all the people at hospice if she could talk to them today.
 
“She would say thank you and if she could she would hug them.”
 
Todd says if anyone has any worries about doing Hospice they shouldn’t. Todd hopes his story will help people not be afraid of hospice and encourage them to go through the process if needed.
 
 

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