Calgary Health Trust

Champion For Health - Rick Kubik

Rick Kubik - Monthly Donor to Neurosciences at FMC

Champions for Health are a special group of people who connect their passion and desire to give with our community's health care needs. Today we are sharing one of our monthly donor's stories and how his gift impacts the lives of others in our community.

A marriage should be a time of joy and happiness, but before Rick and Susan celebrated their first anniversary Rick woke up in the hospital.

"I didn't remember what had happened or why I was there," said Rick.  According to his wife he had a massive seizure. After being rushed to Foothills Medical Centre staff ran some tests to find out the reason for the seizure. They discovered Rick most likely had brain cancer.

An exploratory surgery was scheduled for April 6, 2008 but before it could happen Rick found out he had deep vein thrombosis, a potentially life threatening blood clot in his leg. He underwent treatment at Rockyview General Hospital but surgery for his brain cancer had to be postponed because of the blood thinners used to treat the clot.

Rick experienced three more seizure before he was able to have brain surgery on Feb 17, 2009.  It was a complex surgery due to the location of the tumour and they had to remove a whole section of Rick's brain. It turned out the tumour was actually an oligoastrocytomas, an even worse type of cancer than originally suspected.

During the surgery they inserted a metal plate in his head and he had 40 staples in his head.

"I looked like Frankenstein," he said. 

The surgery was successful in removing the tumour but Rick is not the same person as he was before since they removed part of his frontal lobe. Over the first five months Rick worked on rehabilitation. He joined a clinical trial were he was giving medication injections to help prevent the cancer from returning after surgery.

Although Rick was on the road to recovery, Rick and Susan's health troubles were not finished.

Towards the end of 2009, Susan was experiencing severe fatigue. After a medical check-up she received a devastating diagnosis - stage four lung cancer. 

Rick switched gear from being a recovering cancer survivor to a caregiver for his wife.

Susan underwent radiation and the treatment was very hard on her. By summer 2012, she couldn't work and needed assistance from home care. Sadly, by December, Susan's doctors determined she would need hospice care.

It took a while for Rick to convince Susan that a hospice was the right place for her. Though she was happy and optimistic for a while after moving to Sarcee Hopsice, she started to decline in the first week of January. There staff were so gentle and caring with Susan as they recognized she was entering her final days and often sat with her and held her hand.

"I was able to stay with her for those final few nights before she passed away peacefully," said Rick, "I am grateful for the care and for the amazing staff at Sarcee Hopsice that cared for Susan in her final weeks." 

Throughout this whole experience Rick was very impressed with the health care they received.  "The staff at Foothills were friendly and gave us really good care," he said and he speaks highly of the excellent emotional and social support from the Tapestry program, a retreat and renewal centre outside of Calgary that is open to all adults living with cancer, and from staff that they received as part of their care.

While Rick was a patient at Foothills he picked up a Calgary Health Trust brochure about giving back to help the hospital.  He signed up to be a monthly donor to the Neuroscience program at Foothills and is still donating every month. This past spring Rick called to double his monthly donation to Calgary Health Trust. 

Because of monthly donations like Rick's the Neuroscience department has been able to:

-       Support nursing and team education conferences to help share knowledge.

-       Purchase upgraded exam tables in Neuro Rehab Unit - the tables now move up and down which increases patient comfort and staff safety.

-       Replace chairs in the outpatient clinic waiting areas like the MS Clinic and Ambulatory Clinic to increase comfort for patients waiting for appointments.

For more information on becoming a monthly donor please email Nicole Kitson, Annual Giving Officer or call 403-943-0634.