Room to Breathe: The quiet room provides a private area to sit, reflect and be with family, and can also be used to discuss psychosocial and palliative home care services.
After Shea Gifford’s cancer diagnosis, she often expressed a desire for a quiet place to sit, think and talk at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.
Shea’s husband Fred is the owner of Nu-Way Floor Fashions, a Calgary company that has been holding a successful annual charity golf tournament for more than three decades. For three years, between 2011 and 2014, the company’s tournament raised money for the Tom Baker Cancer Centre’s patient services division. This summer, they made Shea’s dream a reality, with the opening of a private room.
“The quiet room is personal to us, just because that is something that mom really needed and wanted to help other people,” says Elisha Choquette, Shea Gifford’s daughter.
Over the course of four years, Fred says Nu-Way has donated more than $140,000 to the Tom Baker, which dedicated the quiet room in Shea’s memory. Fred describes the room as an alternative to a clinical setting, providing a comforting environment for patients. “We like to make sure the money gets put to something that’s good for the public,” he says, adding that he hopes the next patients who get cancer diagnoses can seek comfort and privacy in the room. Shea’s best friend, Rebecca Pratt, says she’s glad the company’s donations have been funnelled into the new room. “To do it for the patient services is so real, you know it’s touching people,” she says.
Shea’s daughter (and Nu-Way employee) Elisha Choquette says the entire company participates in the annual golf tournament and the positive energy spreads around to others. She says she enjoys, “working towards a goal and definitely succeeding and going over and above it.
“The quiet room is personal to us, just because that is something that mom really needed and wanted to help other people,” Choquette adds.” Even though she was going through it herself, she wanted to see the future for other people being able to have that space.”
Dr. J. Dean Ruether, Shea’s physician, says donations are extremely important. Funds provide the extra care and comforts for patients and their families. Ruether recalls Shea expressing her discomfort with coming out of examining rooms only to see others in the waiting room and feeling like all eyes were on her. “How difficult is that, when you’ve been given some difficult or devastating news, and you’re flustered and thrown by that, that’s not a time when you want to be exposed to a whole bunch of people you don’t know,” he says.
Now the quiet room provides a private area to sit, reflect and be with family. The room can also be used to discuss psychosocial and palliative home care services. “I hope for individual patients the quiet room provides that enhancement to care,” Ruether says, adding that patient-friendly spaces other than clinic rooms are very valuable and important. “I hope we see a lot of use of this room, and that it highlights the need for more of this kind of space,” Dr. Ruether says. He describes Shea as an incredibly brave and inspiring person, and says he really enjoyed being involved with her care, as tough as it was. “She was a shining example of the strength that people have within themselves that they can draw on at times when they’re facing their own crisis and yet they can do things to help other people. That was Shea right up until the very end,” Ruether describes. “This is a part of her legacy.”