Frank Shyne was a member of City of Hope’s extended family for decades. As a longtime regular platelet donor, Frank contributed to the treatment of countless cancer patients.
When he was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer, there was no doubt in his mind about where he would be treated. He fought with his health-care provider to ensure that he could go to City of Hope for treatment.
“Unfortunately, the tumor was not responding to chemotherapy, and Mr. Shyne was experiencing increasing fatigue and pain,” said Karen Reckamp, M.D., M.S., physician in the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program and Shyne’s doctor. “I had long discussions with Mr. Shyne and his daughter about his treatment options and raised the alternative of aggressively treating his symptoms instead of aggressively treating the tumor.”
It was initially a difficult conversation for Shyne, who expressed a fear of hospice. “Hospice, to me, meant the end of the line,” he said.
But there were no reservations for Shyne’s sister Rosemary Dillon, who traveled from Massachusetts to stay with him during treatment. As a nurse with hospice experience, she knew the value of hospice.
“I went to the open house City of Hope held for newly renovated rooms designated for hospice patients, as a way to occupy my time while Frank was being treated, but at that point, I was not sure we were ever going to use it,” said Dillon, director of allied health and gerontology at Cape Cod Community College. “Everyone has been phenomenal. I felt supported by a very professional group of people who helped us figure out our situation and make tough decisions.”
In August, four apartments within Hope Village and Parsons Village were converted into hospice units where patients can receive specialized care. Patients in the new Village Hospice can choose to stay at City of Hope and receive care from Hospice of Pasadena/Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital’s hospice nurses and physicians, along with City of Hope staff.
Shyne had thought that dealing with some pain was just part of the process of fighting cancer. “Fatigue is the real killer,” he said.
A hospice nurse worked with him to address his fatigue and provide as much of a pain-free environment as possible. “Everyone has been wonderful,” he said.
Dillon and Shyne’s daughter, Kendra Shyne, were able to stay with him at Village Hospice, which meant a lot to them.
“It was great to be able to stay with Frank,” said Dillon. “And as a family member, it was comforting to know that I could step out the door and meet others in similar situations.”
Kendra Shyne had been away on business when her father first entered hospice care, but was able to spend two weeks with him and Dillon in Parsons before Frank’s discharge. “The experience was very peaceful and very easy,” she said. “City of Hope made me feel like I was just on a vacation with my father and Rosemary.”
Shyne intended to stay in California after his release from City of Hope. However, state laws require designation of a 24-hour primary caregiver for patients to receive home hospice service. His family members all live on the East Coast, so Shyne needed to move to be with them.
“Our social worker helped us to realize what we had to do next,” said Dillon. “We weren’t sure that Frank would be able to travel, but his team of doctors and nurses and hospice workers all met and figured it out. I’d really like to thank City of Hope for having this hospice service available.”
As Shyne and his family were checking out of Parson’s Village, he had words of advice for other patients who are facing the decision about entering into hospice care.
“Fear not!” Shyne said with a smile.
Frank Shyne died on Sept. 23 at the home of his sister and her husband on Cape Cod, Mass. In his obituary, the family requested that donations be sent to City of Hope in lieu of flowers.