Stories are definitely powerful and can shape our relationships with each other and make a positive impact in our ability to become better practitioners. Over the years I feel honoured to have leaned valuable life lessons from my patients as they reflect on their lives during their final months or weeks of life. So often we become preoccupied with our to do lists and the never-ending rush to feel accomplished.

An impactful story from earlier in my practice that comes to mind is about a young 40-year-old woman I had the privilege of taking care of during my community days. She had fraternal twins who were under the age of 10 and was dying from Metastatic Breast CA. She was an artist who expressed herself through her work and lived her life with such grace and humility. I admitted her at the point of diagnosis and was able to follow her journey through to being admitted to our unit at the hospital. Every time we would review her symptoms and discuss how we could support her family, she would respond with, “Don’t worry I have a plan for that”. We were able to do a lot of legacy work with friends and family and involved her husband and children every step of the way. She was open and transparent and allowed the children to stay and ask questions when needed, or let them play if that’s what they wanted to do. It was such a humbling experience to witness that my role was not dictated by managing her disease, but being a silent member of her family unit and supporting her in other non conventional ways. Some days involved reminiscing about her “wild 20s” when she was travelling the world and meeting new people. Other days involved expressing her anger and asking “what did I do to deserve this?”. We would sit in her garden and once the “nursing bits and assessments” were done, she would ask about my family and what was new. Building that connection, fostered a sense of trust between us. She was a big believer in a holistic approach to life and did not want to lose sight of that in the end. I take that experience with me and when I am teaching students who are learning about palliative care, I make a point to reiterate that our agenda is not the one that matters. Our job is to ensure that the patient’s goals of care are the priority and that may not fit into a specific box and that is ok.