• TSH staff member offers “unparalleled care and support” to patient in final days
    Published July 18, 2016

    For Linda MacMillan, Karen Powell was “an angel” she feels she was “destined to meet.”

    On May 16, 2016, Linda’s mother, Kay Fujimoto, was admitted to The Scarborough Hospital’s (TSH) Palliative Care program at the General campus following a diagnosis of stage four lung cancer the month before. Karen, a housekeeping staff member assigned to the sixth floor where Kay was staying, would clean her mother’s room and always greet them both with a kind hello.

    One day, Linda heard Karen singing to herself in the common kitchen area of the unit.

    “I complemented her on her beautiful voice and asked her if she could possibly sing a song to my mom in her room,” said Linda.

    “She agreed and sang my mom’s favourite song, Rod Stewart’s ‘Have I Told You Lately’, along with ‘Wing Beneath My Wings’, and ‘Amazing Grace’. Mom lit up with joy and enjoyed listening to Karen.”

    During her last week of life, Kay was getting weaker and less responsive. “She barely spoke or opened her eyes,” said Linda.

    “On May 26, Karen came into my mom’s room to sing her a song she entitled ‘Go On’ that she had composed for her grandmother’s funeral. Karen had written it while on the plane to Jamaica to sing at the service.

    “When she began to sing, my mom’s eyes opened wide and she smiled at her the entire time. My mom listed intently to the words, and at one point, she closed her eyes and I believe the message had brought her profound peace and comfort so she could ‘go on’.”

    The experience was equally emotional for Karen. “I wrote that song in 1998 and whenever I sing it, all the memories about my grandmother, who I was so very close to, come flooding back,” she said.

    Kay died five days later on May 31. In preparing for her funeral, Linda asked if Karen would sing ‘Go On’ at her funeral service and Karen agreed.

    “It’s something our family will never forget,” said Linda. “We are so humbled by the kindness of Karen to share her gift with us all.”

    In addition to Karen’s incredible act of generosity, Linda praises the “unwavering attention and compassion provided by all the physicians, nurses, and caregivers” at TSH who attended to her mother.

    Outside of the care Kay received in her final weeks, Linda’s family has a number of other personal and professional connections to TSH. She and her two sisters were born at the General campus. As well, Linda worked at TSH in the dietary department and cafeteria, and Kay worked in housekeeping.

    The words to Karen’s song ‘Go On’ are below.

    Go On

    by Karen Powell

    I watched you struggle through tough times

    Holding on

    Grasping for life

    But the pain was too much to endure

    I can’t believe that your gone

    Your presence is still alive

    I will surely miss that smile upon your face

    But go on

    God will welcome you with open arms

    Go on

    He’ll relieve you from the suffering and the pain

    Don’t be afraid

    Just go on

    And when you reach the Promised Land

    Shine a light and touch my hand

    It will comfort my heart

    Knowing you are with angels in the sky

    But go on

    God will welcome you with open arms

    Go on

    He’ll relieve you from the suffering and the pain

    Don’t be afraid

    Spread your wings and fly

    And go on

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