“Evergreen helped Annie find some comfort and peace throughout the years of battling her illness.”
We would like to share the story of a beautiful person named Annie Brown who used our service for thirteen years. Through her time at Evergreen, until her death on June 22, 2023, she was not just a “client”, but will be remembered as a kind, funny, and resilient person. This story honours Annie and also her family, who she loved so much and who shared their comments with us.
Annie first came to Evergreen for grief counseling when her dad died. When diagnosed with Scleroderma, a rare life-threatening illness, she remembered hearing about the Living Room Program from newsletters and brochures. She thought the Living Room would be good for her.
Annie often said that having a life-threatening illness was scary and lonely. She enjoyed coming to the Living Room each week because it was somewhere she could just be “herself“. Though the program is designed to offer a reprieve from having to talk about the hardships of disease and illness, and though it is not a therapy program in a counseling sort of way, it is inherently therapeutic. Everyone in the group shares or could share similar challenges such as social isolation, anxiety or depression symptoms, timely access to support and provider understanding, transportation, financial limitations. Yet, in the group, she bonded with the others and frequently said they became like a second family.
She also said that the unconditional support from the staff and volunteers was amazing in that they did not see her as a diseased person to be pitied but rather as a person who has a disease. She would also say that the welcoming environment and a place to belong gave her something to look forward to each Thursday and helped her push through her pain and discomfort.
At The Living Room group, she was not just another person going to medical appointments. Annie participated with joy in all programs whether it be movement, trivia, learning about different cultures, navigating feelings or life skills. She especially liked creative programs, playing mock Jeopardy, bingo, having a Therapeutic Touch session and the simpler things such as chatting with others and sharing a collective lunch.
Annie’s life was on hold as she battled her debilitating disease, but attending the Living Room became a lifeline for her. Throughout the medications, appointments, infections, pain and hospitalizations, Annie remained cheerful, caring and courageous. When her spirits were low, she also utilized another service of ours–having a volunteer who would call Annie on a regular basis.
Annie often said that The Living Room taught her how to feel good about herself and how to find quality of life when dealing with a life-limiting and life-threatening illness, but the other truth is she gave so much to others by her sheer presence. We understand that the community may not realize our programs are here until they need them, it is people like Annie to remind us of why we do what we do.
There are many individuals in our community coping with a life-threatening illness, caring for a loved one with an illness or with grief. With your help, we can be there for more people that need us, supporting individuals and their families through illness, death and beyond into bereavement. We help families make the most of their precious time together, making memories that will last a lifetime. We hope you will become a Friend of Hospice, or make a single donation, to help us be there for more people like Annie and her family.
Supporting your local hospice
Since 1989, Evergreen has provided community based supportive services to people of all ages and backgrounds in Markham, Stouffville and Thornhill, who are living with a life-threatening illness or coping with caregiving or the death of a loved one.
That is why Evergreen is here. We provide one of the few accessible options for professional counselling, support groups and other programs related to death and dying, at no cost to our clients.