The Season of Hope Holiday Campaign 2018

Dear friends of Hospice,

As the new Executive Director at Hospice, I am honoured to be sharing my journey with you. My road to Hospice is a result of an amazing convergence of life experiences, fate and a passionate belief in the palliative approach to care in the lives of virtually every person.


Thank you for taking the time to read my story and for your continued support for such a vital community service.       


~ Colleen Reaume, Executive Director, The Hospice of Windsor & Essex County


Just as so many of you, I have experienced the loss of someone very special to me from cancer. On December 25, 1978, when I was 11, my Dad (Bob) passed away from leukemia, he was 32 years old. We were now a family of four; it was just my mother Pauline, and my siblings, Sherry, Robbie and Marty.


As I look back, I realize just how different things were in 1978; in an effort to protect us, we were never told about what was happening. Imagine my bewilderment, sitting on my Dad’s lap and opening gifts on Christmas morning, then plunged into an abyss of grief and confusion when he died that very afternoon. I was never told that he had been battling leukemia for five years. How do four small children process our grief and anger? How does our Mom?


There were no support programs, no bereavement counsellors — and nowhere to turn for that kind of help. My mother is an absolute wonder to me, she not only survived, but thrived, and is an inspiration to me every single day; she cherishes life and the “small” things that make it special.


Overnight I became “that kid at school whose Dad died on Christmas Day.” With no support mechanisms in place to help us cope, Dad’s death had a significant impact on our entire family. However, it was my brother, Robbie, who carried a bundle of hurt into a life laden with deeper challenges and trauma — which lead to his sudden death at just 28 years of age.


How can you ever know that one tragic death left unsupported didn’t contribute to the next?


Robbie had such a hard time accepting the sudden loss of Dad; he struggled more than any child should. I know that Robbie’s life, and all of our lives, would have been so different if we had been able to access the kind of support and programs that are in place at the Hospice of Windsor & Essex County. I absolutely believe that my Dad’s journey would also have been so different. No one should ever have to go through what we did — alone. Coupled with my experiences as a leader in the cancer program and my lived experiences, it is my greatest wish to ensure that access to early palliative approaches to care exists for every person affected with a life-altering diagnosis.


I share this story with you to help you understand what prompts my passion to support, educate and empower each person in whatever stage of the journey they may be on when they come to Hospice.


At Hospice, we support, educate and empower all those affected by a life-altering diagnosis. This goes beyond offering services and programs; our hope is to change the lives of our patients and families by allowing them to live each moment to the fullest. Thanks to you, Hospice can provide Children and Teen Wellness Programs which teach children to cope with the changes they have experienced, whether they have an illness or are affected by a loved one’s diagnosis. This year, your support contributes to the forty-year Hospice legacy of ensuring people will always have a helping hand when they need it, to help them find joy, peace and ongoing hope at all stages of their journey. Thank you for helping us change lives each and every day — together!

Click here to view the full Season of Hope Holiday Campaign letter