Thara Tapie
November 2017
Medical Unit
Riverside Community Hospital
United States




A patient was admitted and during her stay was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer that had metastasized to her liver, bones, and brain. The patient was given 2-3 weeks to live. They were able to do a few radiation treatments to shrink the tumors in her brain to help with the severe headaches and eye pain she was experiencing. She did not have any options for surgery or chemotherapy because her cancer had progressed too far. This patient was young, only 45 years old and was a mother to six adult boys and a little girl who was only four. She kept mentioning that she needed to get out of the hospital because her little girl was going to have a birthday soon and she wanted to throw her a big party or do something amazing with her before she passed away. She was struggling financially because she was unable to work while she was in the hospital. In fact, she received notice she was evicted from her apartment during her hospital stay and would have to stay with her sister when she discharged home on hospice.
Thara knew she had to do something for this incredible woman.
Thara called Make a Wish Foundation in hopes they could help do something for her and her family for her daughter's 5th birthday. She really wanted her to be able to create a happy and fun memory with her daughter before she passed that her daughter could forever hold onto. The Make a Wish Foundation directed her to the Dream Foundation because Make a Wish Foundation only worked with children under the age of 18. The lady from the Dream Foundation gave Thara all the website information and assisted with finding the application for a hospice referral so it would be expedited.
First, she had to get the hospice company to fill out a portion of the application. She faxed it over and they quickly filled out their portion and faxed it back within minutes. Then Thara had to get the primary MD to fill out his portion to state the patient's diagnosis and the current life expectancy. This was needed to show that the patient needed this dream to be fulfilled as soon as possible. Thara was able to complete the application herself. This includes having to write a letter stating the patient's wishes for her dream, her story, and the reason she felt she deserved the dream. She also had to take a picture of the patient with family, gather her financial information such as bank statements, and picture of her driver's license. Thara spent countless hours with the patient letting her express her wishes for a perfect birthday with her daughter and she stated that she had always wanted to take her daughter to Disneyland, but has never been able to financially afford it. She also stated that she would like to visit the San Diego Zoo and Universal Studios with her.
After spending a day with her own family at the beach, Thara came to the hospital that night (on her off day) to spend some time collecting more information from the patient and to obtain signatures from her and her boyfriend for the applications and waivers, etc. Everyone over the age of 18 who was going to attend the wish had to sign the application.
The following day, also on Thara's day off, she faxed all paperwork to the Dream Foundation. The patient was discharged home a few days later. Curious about whether she had her wish granted, Thara called the Dream Foundation and was told she was granted her wish to go to Disneyland and that she would be going on her daughter's birthday. Thara then called the hospice that was managing her at home to see how she was doing and if she was stable enough to go to Disneyland. The RN stated although she was very weak, she would be going and was very excited.
Thara was not at work when the patient called the unit to let us know that she was at Disneyland and to make sure Thara knew. Thara had told her to call and let us know that she had received her wish so we could all cheer for her (and cry as well).
The patient passed away a day or two after her Disneyland trip, but she was able to spend her daughter's 5th birthday at Disneyland, creating the most wonderful memories for her daughter to cherish forever.
Thara stated that "This patient and her unfortunate situation really tugged at my heartstrings, as do many of my patients who are fighting cancer. Being a survivor has really given me a different perspective on what these patients are experiencing and what they face. Although it took a couple of days to get the application complete, even working on my days off, I would do it again in a heartbeat! One thing I will remember about this patient is her strength. She never stopped smiling and laughing. Even knowing that she was given a few weeks to live, she always maintained a positive attitude. This lady was a warrior! When I asked her how she could be so strong, she said, 'I could spend the last few weeks of my life depressed and crying or I could be happy and live it up. Either way, the outcome is going to be the same for me.' She was right!"
Thara is also a warrior and a recent cancer survivor herself. Although she was a shining star before her diagnosis, she has returned and has continued to be a positive force on the D2 Team. As she has a husband and young daughter of her own, she continues to exemplify what it means to care beyond the bedside.