BONNERS FERRY — Life can be full of surprises, both good and bad. For Lydia Hays (Lala), life dealt a solid blow when she was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November of 2015.
“At first I was completely devastated, nothing seemed to be working so I decided to go off chemo and decided hospice was for me,” said Hays. ”I decided living a life of happiness was much better than a life of sadness. To this date I feel incredible.”
Before going to Auburn Crest Hospice, Hays had never had her pain managed before.
“When we got her, they said she probably wouldn’t last a week, so we acted fast,” said Jennifer Van Etten, who is a nurse there. “Now her pain is managed, so she is walking about three miles a day. We have noticed before, that once people get their pain managed, it allows their body to heal because your body can’t heal when it is in trauma mode. Hospice is definitely not the end and that is what I tell people.”
Her move to Auburn Crest Hospice has provided pain management, care, and has offered various fun activities for Hays to enjoy, including helping her with her bucket list.
“I started a list of activities that I wanted to do at least one more time before I left this world; horseback riding just happened to be on that list,” said Hays.
It was something she had not done since she was 11 years old. Van Etten then contacted her friend Amy Lunsford, who she knew had horses, and arranged for a trail ride.
“After long thought and asking Jennifer many questions about Lala and her strength and ailments, I decided I would have the right horse and trail for her,” said Lunsford.
They met up at Trout Creek, which is in Kootenai County, where Lunsford brought her Tennessee Walker, Miss Tiffany, for Hays to ride.
“It was a great ride,” said Lunsford. “Bringing the big smile to Lala’s face and watching my old Tennessee walking horse take great care of Lala warmed my heart and brought a great amount of happiness to my heart.”
“Amy was amazing,” said Hays. “I got to brush and talk to the horse before I got on her. I definitely plan on riding again. Amy said I could come back anytime and ride again. I’m all for it, I have a bucket list going and hope to knock them one by one. We plan on camping here in a couple weeks and have already finished a few things off the list.”
Surrounded by caring people at Auburn Crest Hospice has led Hays to embark on the adventures of a lifetime. Hays’ sister, Carol Lamberson, prompted her to make the bucket list, and a social worker on the premises got wind of it and brought it to Van Etten’s attention.
“The Hospice slogan is ‘choose to live every moment’ so that is what we try to do is embrace life and live every moment. Every moment counts,” said Van Etten.
“Jennifer and those hospice workers have a very tough job and if I can do something small to help make a big difference I will,” said Linsford.
“I want to thank everyone at the Auburn Crest Hospice Center,” said Hays. “If not for them this would not be possible. You have all been wonderful.”