Published on November 01, 2016

'Hospice truly cares about the entire family'

Bruder family

Jean Bruder (left) is pictured in this family photo with her son, Dylan, and daughter, Jan. Jan says Hospice gave her mother peace of mind.

Proud, strong and independent, Jean Bruder worked hard her whole life. She took care of people – in nursing homes and as a home healthcare worker –and instilled that compassion and autonomy in her children.

Jean didn't know she was sick until after a car accident when X-rays revealed a large mass on her lungs. It was lung cancer, and she was given six months to live. At 52, Jean was determined to live the rest of her life her own way.

That meant no chemotherapy, no surgery, no hospitals. Gundersen Health System Hospice helped her make it happen. Jean would have never dreamed how important hospice would be in her life and the lives of her family.

Jean's daughter, Jan Bruder, has made a career of helping other women and their families through the wounds of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Jean, as a home healthcare worker, was sure she could take care of herself, in her own home. Jan was equally sure she herself could handle all the rest.

"I thought, 'I run a crisis center. I don't need help,'" says Jan. "Now I tell people to seek that help from Hospice, and to do it now."

Gundersen Hospice provides home nurse visits, medication management, resources for caregivers, 24/7 telephone support, social work and personal needs such as bathing. But more, hospice support could be something as simple and cherished as one last horseback ride, which Hospice helped coordinate for Jean and her family. "We were very blessed to do so many fun things in the time she was given and hospice was a huge part of that," says Jan.

Jan says because their family began hospice services soon after Jean's diagnosis, the family bonded with their in-home care team and counselors. They built the trust and acceptance that allowed Jean, Jan and brother, Dylan, to not just accept, but to embrace, hospice. Because of these bonds and trust, Jean accepted the intimate care she eventually needed at the end, which came in August 2015. Gundersen Hospice respected Jean and her family's choices and made sure Jean's choices were honored. She hoped only to see Dylan graduate and to attend his graduation party. She prayed to leave this world in dignity – in her own Sparta home – knowing her children would be OK.

"Hospice taught us how to celebrate our mother's life and the person she was. The fact that Hospice staff still contact us – a year later – is beyond amazing to me," Jan says. "It shows that Hospice truly cares about the entire family, and that my mom wasn't just a number or a statistic."

"Many people don't understand grief or death...so it's very comforting getting a call to see how we are. The kind words on the other end of that phone call mean a lot."

Gundersen Hospice serves patients and their families in:

  • Wisconsin - Jackson, La Crosse, Trempealeau and Vernon counties
  • Minnesota - Houston, Winona and Fillmore counties
  • Iowa - Contact Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital and Clinics at (563) 422-6267.

To learn more about Gundersen Hospice, call (608) 775-8435 or visit gundersenhealth.org/hospice.