Grandma’s Elephants: Running with purpose this Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend in support of Bruyère

At Bruyère, the return of Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend brings with it a sense of community that warms the heart, especially following the endless challenges faced during over last two years. 

For those unfamiliar with Bruyère, it includes four campuses: Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital and Élisabeth Bruyère Residence in the Byward Market area; Saint-Vincent Hospital in Centretown; Saint-Louis Residence and Bruyère Village in Orleans, and now Greystone Village, a transitional care unit in Ottawa East. 

People are often referred to Bruyère after having suffered a loss of independence and function, usually because of a significant medical event or illness. Bruyère’s health care team works with them to maximize their quality of life and restore independence and function where possible, through rehabilitation and restorative care services. When this is not possible, Bruyère’s care team works to accommodate the loss of independence through long-term care, complex care, and palliative care.

For Chelsea Chapman, the emphasis on maximizing the quality of life for their patients hits home when she reflects on her family’s journey with Bruyère. Chelsea’s beloved grandma, Joan Dettrich, passed away in early 2020 after spending her final months at Bruyère’s Saint-Vincent Hospital. The care and compassion she received during her stay was exceptional. And as a means to recognize the care team and to honour her grandmother, Chelsea made the commitment to sign up for her very first half-marathon and raise funds for Bruyère in memory of her grandmother.

After a long battle with cancer, Joan Dettrich was enjoying living the rest of her life as she wished – independently, at home. That all changed on December 17th, 2018, when Joan was admitted to The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus following a stroke. Due to the complexity of her prognosis, Joan was not expected to fully recover, and her medical team was focused on her comfort rather than her rehabilitation. Being the fighter she was, Joan spent the next few months at The Ottawa Hospital, proving she was determined to spend more time with her family before being transferred to Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit in March 2019.

Upon her arrival at Bruyère, Joan’s family immediately felt at ease. The staff was attentive, warm, caring, and took the time to keep Chelsea and her family informed of Joan’s evolving health situation. Chelsea found comfort in knowing that her grandma’s needs were being met, and that she was being well cared for – even when her loved ones couldn’t be by her side.

By July of 2019, Joan had made it clear that she had more life to live, and she was transferred to Bruyère’s Saint-Vincent Hospital where she was able to receive the complex care she required. Joan received the same exceptional care at Saint-Vincent that she had experienced at Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital, and her family was grateful to have Joan spend her remaining days comfortable and in a caring environment where they could focus on spending quality time together during their visits.

Joan had a love for elephants. They were her good luck charm. Chelsea gifted her a stuffed elephant when she first was admitted to the hospital, and her Grandma’s care team could often be seen tucking it in with her— a sweet touch that has stayed with Chelsea and her family.

For the team at Bruyère Foundation, Chelsea’s story is one of many that they hear throughout the year and have the pleasure of sharing with the community. “Chelsea’s story is a great example of the incredible support that our colleagues on the front line provide to not just our patients, but their families as well.” 

For more Bruyère stories, to make a donation or create your own team to raise funds for Bruyère, we encourage you to check out Bruyère’s page for the Desjardins Charity Challenge

To support Chelsea and Grandma’s Elephants, visit their fundraising page to make your donation today.