As we entered the Coast hospice grounds, we found the men and women that attend the daycare sessions talking about some of the legal issues they were experiencing. Issues of inheritance and children came about with the Lawyer, Mr. Joseph Lutta providing answers on what the law is on such matters and what should ultimately be anticipated. Mr. Lutta has been a volunteer with the Hospice since 2015. His journey into palliative care started after he researched on the matter and realized that Cancer, which he thought of as a rich man’s western disease was affecting his own community and the legal aspect to it being quite overlooked. His willingness to give a hand in any way he could was further pushed forward after he attended a session and saw people struggling with personal and other legal aspects. Since then, he has found that the patients are quite intrigued to learn about their legal issues and he is constantly trying to merge culture with written law because he does believe that if one is not infected, they are affected.
“I would direct anyone here; it is a place of love, friendship, and laughter. It is not a place to die because if it was that, I wouldn’t be here today but as you see, I am alive and well.” This is what Rebecca; a breast cancer survivor said when she was asked about the hospice. When Daisy (not her real name) was first diagnosed, a natural fear came over her. In her train of thought, she felt like life had now come to its end especially in the event that she would have to undergo a mastectomy. She often reflected on her life during her brief interview and described her journey following the diagnosis, her fight against cancer and remembers the friends she lost but also pure love and heart of giving she has since gotten from the new friends at the hospice. John (not his real name), a prostate cancer survivor also gave a glimpse of his experience with the illness. He also describes how his experience with Coast hospice has been greatly positive, to say the least, due to the new community he is now part of and one that fully understands him. He briefly told us how the Hospice has provided pain relieving medication, needed legal advice, spiritual guidance and staff who wear the counselor hat when the situation calls for it. The team at Coast hospice expressed their commitment to continue supporting patients, most of whom have nowhere else to turn for such care.
As mentioned by many of the patients that we were able to interact with during our visit to Coast hospice, the Hospice and the staff provided a safe space for the patients to release their fears. It was quite an experience and inspirational visiting the hospice when we did. Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) has been supporting hospices, including the Coast hospice to integrate legal aspects in palliative care; being a need as expressed by many palliative care patients. The reminder that the people fighting are our brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers hit home and in the process epitomized the fact that terminal illnesses are not the end of the world. Daisy, John and the other patients embody the concept of kicking life forward when it kicks you. Among the many important medical and legal services, the hospice provided the friendship and love in which the patients encounter which in it is a healing therapy.