Christmas is fast approaching. In 25 short days many will be surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. Sharing laughter, continuing traditions, and making memories.
Not everyone will be celebrating the holiday season in their own home this year. Keri Babcock will be spending it at the Prince George Hospice House.
The 43-year-old was diagnosed with Polymyositis 10 years ago. The rare disease causes the bodies immune system to turn against its own muscles, causing inflammation and damaging tissue.
With effective treatment, Babcock remained in remission for a long period of time. In 2012 though, the disease became aggressive and turned on her lungs.
Over the last year, Babcock developed pulmonary fibrosis. “Nobody really wants to give that time-frame. The only thing I do truly know is I think the body is really going to be- the Universe will decide that. I have seen a Lung Specialist in Vancouver. They had given 2-3 years with this set of lungs, but I’m a believer so who knows.”
She says she could have been put on a transplant list for new lungs, but made the personal choice not too.
Babcock moved into the Hospice House at the end of September. In those short few months, she says the Society has become a second home and a second family to her. “When my home became too much, I wasn’t sure like what do people do? Where do people go?…and honestly the hospital wasn’t sounding much like a great spot. I didn’t know much about Hospice. What I learned and when came in… I mean it’s amazing.”
She says she first made peace with her condition after moving in. “Some people get the sense that it’s a bit scary because it’s a place to die, and yes people do die, but it’s amazing that you have such a warm, caring place to do so; if you don’t wish to do that in your home. It’s important to have people advocating, and helping and being your support networks.”
While Babcock may not be in her own home this Christmas, she will not be alone. “Christmas my daughter [22-year-old Megan Humphreys] and grandson [2-year-old Malachi] are planning on spending the night here; Christmas Eve. We will have a bit of a Christmas morning, visit as much as I can with my beautiful grandboy. Then when he wears me out, he’s going to go off to celebrate Christmas some more.”
“She’s been awesome. Definitely a trooper. It’s not easy not being able to be in your home,” says Humphreys. “They are all awesome. Everybody is so welcoming when you come in. Nobody ever asks why you’re here, or tells you not to do something. They are very helpful.”
Eventually Babcock will integrate back into her own home. “I will be at home for as long as I can manage with help there…when it becomes time again; and it will come to that time, then I will come back.”
No one really knows how much time they have, though. Babcock has some advice for families this Christmas season.
“Wrap an onion. This is absolutely what I would say. Wrap that darn onion up, get it under the tree. It doesn’t matter, something that is going to make your child go ‘what?!’ Or maybe they will love it; maybe they will surprise you and love it. Have fun. Have extreme fun this Christmas.”