Hospice Care Brings Comfort to Creston Family

Charlie Spurgeon of Creston was an active, fit man who made his career as a railroader, like many in town. Though he was 82 years old, his wife Connie says you would never have known it. “He went to the ‘Y’ three or four times a week and worked out! He looked like he was in his early 70s.”

So, when Charlie started having weakness in his legs, followed by back pain, he went to the doctor. Many tests were performed, but none could explain what was causing his condition. After a trip to Canada in August, Connie and Charlie returned home for a scheduled MRI.

The results were unexpected: Charlie was diagnosed with collecting duct carcinoma (CDC), a rare and aggressive form of kidney cancer that begins in the collecting duct of the kidney. Many people with CDC have no symptoms until the cancer is at an advanced stage. Charlie was given six months to live.

One of the first calls Connie made as she and Charlie put things in order was to inquire about hospice care. She was referred to the EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Ayr. Charlie received hospice care in the hospital, and then continued to receive care at his home.

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“We had him here at home, thanks to EveryStep Hospice, for the last four weeks and they were a wonderful four weeks of people coming and going. He enjoyed everybody’s company and the kids were here. We couldn’t have asked for anything better,” says Connie.

Connie says the care Charlie received from the EveryStep Hospice Mount Ayr team was comforting for him, but a big help for her as well. “Charlie was a big, tall guy. It was very hard for me to get him moved in order to take care of him. The girls were wonderful. They would come in and help with changing the sheets, and bathing and shaving him.”

The time spent with the nurses was also emotionally uplifting for Charlie. “Oh, my goodness, I’d hear them in there and they would just talk and talk, and laugh and laugh. It was so good for him. They were really personal and that made it so much easier to have jovial people around.”

Though understandably difficult, Connie says the EveryStep Hospice team helped her prepare for Charlie’s death. “They explained to me exactly how everything would happen, and had talks with me at great length. I was prepared for it at the end. I knew what was coming.”

Charlie passed away November 13, leaving his wife of 41 years, the six children they brought to their marriage, 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Connie hopes her experience can help others. “I would definitely encourage them to reach out to EveryStep Hospice if they are in a situation like ours.”

EveryStep Hospice helps those living with a serious illness make the best out of every day. Most hospice care is provided through in-home hospice services; however, when a patient needs around-the-clock hospice care to manage their pain and symptoms, EveryStep Hospice’s Kavanagh House in Des Moines is available. Kavanagh House provides a home-like atmosphere with private bedrooms, living rooms, a family kitchen, spa room, children's play areas and other family amenities. To learn more about EveryStep Hospice, visit https://www.everystep.org/services/hospice.

If you or someone you know is struggling to find the support they need, please contact EveryStep at 515-558-9946. Or complete the commitment-free, confidential “Find Care” form on EveryStep’s website at https://www.everystep.org/find-care. EveryStep staff will follow up with a phone call to answer your questions and provide assistance.