By: Dave Levac
Growing up on a Dairy farm was a life giving experience that stayed with her all her life says Cheryl Moore, then Cheryl Fawcett. Chores were a given. Life and death happened on the farm as a usual part of day to day living. Hard work and passion came with the territory. Her father was remembered as a passionate, caring hard working man. That, she says, gave her the desire to work hard, care about what you did. Any job must be taken on with determination, hard work and see it through until the end.
Fast forward to High School at BCI, where she applied that life lesson from the farm to her many activities during the formative years. As a friend, I could tell then that she had a heart of gold and cared about people and their issues. She wasn’t quite sure where she would land in the world of work but it’s fair to say, wherever she landed, the job would be done with passion and hard work. Various options investigated lead her to Nursing. Studying at the BGH through Mohawk College, Cheryl found her first passion. Taking part-time gigs in Toronto, she found her stride and became even more competent in the field. Meeting the love of her life, Paul Moore, they started their life together and while both were still in transition in the world of work, their family grew. Locating back in Brantford, Cheryl tried her hand at a few more areas of nursing that just didn’t fit with her deep desire to impact people’s lives the way she felt she could. Not that the people she worked with didn’t get the best nor feel her passion. She wanted more out of the job.
Enter her next job at the Cancer Centre of the BGH. This new and challenging service required a person right up Cheryl’s wheelhouse. She had the freedom to make the program her own. Design what the “Patient Centered” program should look like and be about…..the patient. She helped people recover, she helped family members cope and understand, she provided passionate care and a healing touch and she softly and gently navigated death. She became an Angel of Mercy.
While Cheryl was continuing her personal journey of discovery relating to her work experiences, she credits many mentors for providing challenges, knowledge and wisdom that tapped her talents and brought out the best in her. She continues to this day to speak in terms of “Team,” “We,” ”Us,” “Together.” She believes we are at our best when we work together and pull in the same direction. Many hands make light work. Cheryl also believes that the staff and volunteers of any organization must see their boss rolling up her sleeves and getting down in the muck. “Never ask a person to do something that you yourself wouldn’t do AND be seen doing it.” That’s leadership.
Moving to the next logical phase of full and satisfying jobs in a career that lasted over 35 years, was the opportunity to build a program from the bottom up, Hospice. It started from the sad, difficult and somewhat unwanted closure of St Joseph’s Hospital. What to do with the services and reputation of the Sisters of St Joseph. A community consultation took place and the answer came by way of a community driven desire to have “End of Life” programs starting with Long Term Care and landing on the final journey of life…..death. Hospice was born. They needed a champion with knowledge, experience, passion and someone who knew what hard work was all about. That was a perfect description of the farm girl and Angel of Mercy. She was the right person, at the right time, in the right place, for the right reason. The perfect match made in Heaven. Building a complete program from scratch isn’t an easy task to begin with but Cheryl and the assembled team had to crawl before walking.
Upon review, it seemed like the “Team” was running full tilt. That said, it must be understood that the Government of the day and previous governments didn’t even consider Hospice as a part of the Healthcare system. The hard working, never take “no” for an answer Angel was a Mamma Bear when it came to her team and Hospice. She remained focused and her attention was on the real reason for her passion, the dying person. Anyone who knows Cheryl, knows better than to get between her and her charges. I know this from personal experience. You see Cheryl became involved with my mother-in-Law while at the Cancer Clinic at the BGH. Just as she was making the transition to Hospice, Mom was dying. Along with great help from the CCAC, she visited often. We had decided Mom would die at our home as Mom had been living with us over the past several years. Cheryl was there from beginning to end.
The people who work in this field are ANGELS. The staff and volunteers deserve our praise and support. End of Life needs people like Cheryl to “up the game.” She has become a provincially, nationally and internationally sought-after expert on the delivery of all things Hospice. Bereavement programs, children counseling, day programs, outreach programs and more all fall within the learned experience stemming from Cheryl’s deep desire to work hard with passion.
The Stedman Centre and Hankinson House Hospice and the many people who have had the blessing of these services can thank their lucky stars this Angel from the Farm touched their lives. Cheryl tells me there is still lots to do. Of course there is, there always is. However, it’s time to let the other Angels carry the load. She’s ready to explore and find new challenges with a family who shared this Angel with all of us. We are very grateful the Angel from the Farm touched our lives. Enjoy your retirement. Angels don’t need a “God Bless you” because you already are.