Losing a loved one is never easy, but it helps when you have a few angels to get you through it. This is why Paula Chiasson and her family chose to honour the compassionate team at the Thoracic Surgery Unit at the QEII’s VG site as Angels in Action.

“I am eternally grateful for everyone on the Thoracic Surgery Unit,” says Paula. “I will always remember dad’s death as a deeply moving experience, largely because of the way they helped us through it.”

On April 12, 2013, Isidore Chiasson was diagnosed with terminal cancer and, ten days later, was admitted to thoracic surgery. Hoping to die at home, under the care of his family, Isidore was very disappointed to learn hospitalization was mandatory. When he passed away just one week later, the Chiasson family was grateful to the staff for making Isidore, and their family, so comfortable there.

Paula, a program coordinator at the QEII Health Sciences Centre’s Division of Neurosurgery, became aware of the Angels in Action program in 2009 when she was nominated by a patient.  Inspired by her father’s final lesson – to love each other – and the exemplary care provided to him, Paula knew she needed to pay it forward.

“Angels in Action allowed my family to recognize them in a public way for a great job; a way to say thanks for caring for our dad,” says Paula.

Paula describes her dad as a powerful presence, a force of nature. Isidore was an honest man, loyal and hardworking – and had a great sense of humour. It was these qualities that captured the hearts of the staff of thoracic surgery, including LPN Tara Rolland.

“Isidore was a gentle soul, a wonderful man with great wit. The whole floor loved him,” says Tara.

Everyone did the most they could for Isidore and his family. They tried to make the Chiassons feel at home and, in return, felt welcomed into the family. Even though it was a sad time in their lives, the Chiasson family made the unit a fun place with formal dining in Isidore’s room, nights watching the Leafs game until 3 a.m. and even welcoming a visit from Archie, Isidore’s much loved dog.

“The Chiassons are a family we will never, ever forget,” says Tara. “I’m glad we were able to help them get through it.”

Donors who honour a person or group through the Angels in Action program are making a gift to the QEII Foundation to advance healthcare technology, education and medical research, supporting exceptional care for patients at the QEII. It allows patients and their families an opportunity to formally recognize their angels at the QEII, who are presented with a special lapel pin to wear proudly throughout the health centre.

Surprised to be honoured as Angels in Action by the Chiassons, Tara explains that, as a healthcare professional, you are just doing your job and never expect to be recognized for it.

“To know you made an impact in someone’s life is humbling. It’s an amazing feeling.”