Palliative care must remain a priority

Chantel standing next to her mother.
Chantel Bourgeois and Debra Meyer 
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us there continues to be substantial gaps in access to palliative care, as people with cancer and their caregivers navigate new challenges within our healthcare system. For Chantel Bourgeois, public health measures that were introduced during the pandemic prevented her family from being able to fully visit her mother, Debra Meyer, during her stay in hospice. 

After receiving a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer in 2019, Debra began treatment that carried over into the pandemic. Nearly a year after her diagnosis in late April 2020, Debra’s family was informed that her cancer had metastasized and that she would soon require end-of-life care. She moved into hospice on May 6, 2020. 

Because of the severity of the pandemic, Chantel was allowed very limited visitation with her mother. With restricted access and only one person permitted to enter Debra’s room at a time, much of her family had to visit her from a distance through a glass window.  

“During a normal hospice and palliative care journey, the person is surrounded by their support system and their room is so full of love,” says Chantel. “It’s heartbreaking to think that my mom couldn’t be with her family members and her grandkids - the things that made her fight and the things that made her happy were taken from her.” 

After spending less than a month in hospice care, Debra died without her family by her side. Having faced the challenges of being a caregiver during a pandemic, Chantel hopes that our healthcare system will prioritize the needs of people who are receiving palliative care to ensure that no one will have to face cancer alone. 

“Nobody deserves to die alone, without a familiar face, soothing words and a hand to hold. They do not deserve to spend their final days looking at the faces of those they love through a window, unable to hear them clearly, unable to touch them and unable to feel their love. This was not the way we had pictured her final days,” says Chantel. 

Your voice is powerful – the more stories we can share with our networks, the more impact we’ll have. To share your experience with hospice palliative care, visit