Tammy Vaters fondly recalls the smile and sparkling eyes that graced CherieAnne Young’s face when they finally arrived in Toronto Tuesday evening.
Leaving Hospice Huronia in the afternoon, Vaters, fellow hospice nurse Karen Buttineau and Young’s friend Tabitha Lamoureux helped safely guide the 55-year-old Perkinsfield woman to Budweiser Stage to catch a show by British superstar Rod Stewart, one of Young’s favourite performers.
Young, who has stage four colon cancer, arrived at the Penetanguishene facility two weeks ago.
“You get to know your patients when they come in,” Vaters explains during an interview with MidlandToday. “She’s an absolutely lovely lady and she has a beautiful, loving family.”
And while COVID has cancelled a lot of events over the past two years, perhaps, none were felt as closely to the heart as Young’s chance to see Stewart perform two years ago.
“She had two tickets and thought she wouldn’t be able to use the tickets,” Vaters says, noting they only began working on the logistics of getting Young to the show over the weekend.
“I was working on the weekend and we talked about it. She asked if that was even possible.”
But Vaters and Buttineau were determined in their resolve to try to find a way to make it happen and notes it took a real group effort to ensure Young was able to take in one last show and hear her favourite song, Maggie May.
Huronia Seniors' Volunteer Care Team offered its Wheels 4 Wheels transportation service to help get Young to the show and once there, they were aided greatly by Live Nation staff that included being brought through the backstage area to their seats.
“There were a lot of components with getting her to that show,” Vaters says, noting that besides finding suitable transportation, they also needed to ensure Young’s medical needs were taken into consideration.
“We brought all of her supplies and medication.”
Vaters says they checked in with Young regularly throughout the concert to see how she was doing.
“She didn’t want to leave,” she says. “We kept checking in and she had that strong will to stay right to the end.”
The concert ended with the song Stay with Me, a hit from Stewart’s younger days as a member of the Faces.
And for that particular moment as the song’s final chords played and the crowd began to meander out, the foursome likely wished they could stay together just a little longer and that the night didn’t have to end.
“We talk about hope a lot at hospice,” Vaters says, noting they don’t sugarcoat life’s end, but talk about the importance of living the best life one can with the time left.
“That’s what hospice is all about; making sure we live right to the end. We hope that gave CherieAnne a little more hope.”
And while her movements were somewhat restricted during the show, Vaters says she could easily tell how happy Young was just to be there on this particular late July night.
“It was worth every moment,” Vaters says. “She was beaming. In her own way, she was dancing…you could tell.
“She was dancing in her heart.”