Jessica’s story

Caring for the whole person – body, mind and spirit 

Photo of Jessica holding her bouquet at her wedding at St. Mary's“I remember one of the first times I met Jessica,” says Jocelyn, a Registered Nurse on the Chest Unit. “It was shortly after her birthday, and she had just become engaged. She was so excited and giddy, and looking forward to planning her wedding. A lot of the nurses on our floor are close in age with Jessica, and we connected with her right away because we could relate to her on so many levels.” 

However, Jessica had Cystic Fibrosis and in desperate need of a lung transplant. Without it, her prognosis was grim and her mother Donna knew they were facing a difficult time ahead – but being at St. Mary’s brought both of them a sense of peace, she recalls. “We’ve been in many, many hospitals because of Jessica’s illness – and there is just something different about St. Mary’s.” 

It was this focus on the whole person – body, mind and spirit – that led staff on the Chest Unit to bring about an event that would fulfill one of Jessica’s wishes: that she marry her fiancé and long-time love, Colin. 

Many of the nurses caring for Jessica had become her friends – and they wanted to give her a special moment she would never forget. 

Many of the nurses caring for Jessica had become her friends – and they wanted to give her a special moment she would never forget. “Looking back, it’s hard to believe everything came together so perfectly,” Jocelyn remembers. “It seemed that once we decided to host the wedding, things fell into place with ease.” 

“I remember the nurses came in, and just took over!” Donna recalls. “It was amazing – within hours, they had two dresses for her to choose from, had arranged for hair and make-up, flowers – it was truly a celebration.” 

Jessica met her groom, Colin, at the front of the Chapel, where they exchanged vows in front of a standing-room only crowd. “She looked beautiful,” says Donna. 

“Jessica was one of those people who touched your heart,” says Jocelyn. “We all feel like we were blessed to know her, and blessed to be a part of her life in such an important way. Jessica’s wedding was as special to us as it was to her – to have been able to give her that experience, despite her being so ill and in hospital, was wonderful for us.”

I think what makes the people at St. Mary’s remarkable is that they do these things without really knowing the impact they have on people – it is natural to them to go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of those they care for. Jessica’s life was fulfilled, in part, because of their care.

 When Jessica passed away at St. Mary’s less than two weeks after her wedding, many of her dreams had been fulfilled. “I think what makes the people at St. Mary’s remarkable is that they do these things without really knowing the impact they have on people – it is natural to them to go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of those they care for. Jessica’s life was fulfilled, in part, because of their care.”