Nfld. & Labrador

Remember Theresa Power? The lady who loves cards needs them now more than ever

Henry Power is concerned over what he sees as a gap in the health care system as his mother enters the last stage of her life.

Son concerned over 'gap' in health care system as mother enters last stage of life

Theresa Power sits next to a large bag filled with Christmas greeting cards in 2014. (Submitted)

A son grappling with the pain of preparing his mother for palliative care has a small request that is sure to brighten her day — send Theresa Power a card.

"In her words, she's lived an amazing life. At 92 years old, she said, 'Something was going to get me sooner or later,'" said Henry Power from outside the Health Sciences Building Wednesday.

"She's a very positive person and all she wants is for everybody in her life to be happy for her."

Theresa Power is a widow and mother of five who lived in St. Joseph's, St. Mary's Bay.

CBC News first reported on Power in 2014, when she was inundated with Christmas cards from friends, family and strangers, all thanks to her son Henry. 

Henry Power says cards will provide his mother with something to do, and comfort to the family as Theresa Power enters her last stage in life. (CBC)

His mother, on a strict budget, had said to him, 'I hope I don't get too many more Christmas cards because I don't want to have to buy another book of stamps.'

Henry Power sent out a Facebook post encouraging everyone to send her cards "to mess up her day," knowing she would have to respond to them all.

The tradition continued every year.

'Gap' in the system

Now at 92, Theresa Power is preparing to go into palliative care. She took a fall last Friday and was taken to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. 

"It's a pretty serious issue that she has and she will probably have to move to palliative care in the next couple of days," Henry Power said.

He has no criticism for those working in the emergency department, but has concerns over what he sees as a gap in the health care system.

After being given the devastating diagnosis, Henry Power said the family was given two options: keep their mother on a stretcher in the emergency ward until another area frees up, or take her home.

Theresa Power of St. Joseph's, St. Mary's Bay poses with a pile of Christmas greetings cards that had been sent her way in 2014. (Submitted by Henry Power)

"I'd like to see the health care system be able to take charge at the emergency room and provide the jump to palliative care, that jump there," he said. 

"What happens to the person that has no where to go?"

Palliative care arranged after discharge

Eastern Health said in a statement to CBC News Thursday that it is unable to discuss the specifics of an individual patient's case.

However, the health authority said palliative care is available to all patients with terminal illnesses, initiated when the patient is ready.

"If a client presents to the emergency department and it is determined that palliative care is appropriate, the emergency department reaches out to the palliative care team, and/or the community support program to arrange for a palliative care follow-up once the client is discharged from the emergency department," the statement said.

"Emergency departments at both the Health Sciences Centre and St. Clare's Mercy Hospital also have a social worker on staff who can meet with a client and their family to discuss palliative care or other home care options."

Eastern Health said supports are available to help patients remain at home, as well as a "palliative nurse navigator" to help families navigate the health care system.

'Everything to everybody'

Choking back tears, Henry Power expressed his love for his mother and admiration for her positive attitude.

"[She's] everything to everybody, all her life. She's done without stuff all her life, too, to provide for her children so that's ... she's still doing it."

Theresa Power still has all her faculties, which means she can still enjoy well wishes and cards that she's used to getting each Christmas.

The simple gesture will be a way to pass the time for Theresa, he said, and to provide comfort for the family.

 Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

If you want to send Theresa Power a card with well wishes, the address is below:

Theresa Power

14 Ashlen Crescent

Paradise, NL

A1L 3G1

With files from Anthony Germain


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