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hands-in-prayerWith a love like Randy and Nancy Krueger’s, there wasn’t much they couldn’t conquer together, but when complications from cancer took their toll, they were thankful that UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s in Sioux City quickly became a part of their fighting team.

At the early age of 20, Nancy was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, and seven short years later she was also battling Large Cell Lymphoma.

Even though Nancy had been sick from the very start of Randy and her marriage, Randy says life with her was easy and wonderful.

“She was so strong, she was a tiny little thing, but she could fight,” he says.

Soon, date nights and fun-filled weekends were replaced with trips to the hospital and regular visits to see a familiar face, Dr. Craig Bainbridge, formerly of UnityPoint Clinic Pulmonary and Critical Care, now medical director of UnityPoint Health-Inpatient Palliative Care

“Dr. Bainbridge was the best caretaker ever,” says Randy. “He took care of my mother, my uncles-everybody; and we just felt like he was family.”

Bainbridge saw Nancy for more than 42 years, but just as much as he saw Nancy, Randy was always right there by her side.

“She came to really rely on Randy,” says Dr. Bainbridge; “They were like one person so to speak,” he added, “I think she anticipated his feelings, and he anticipated hers and they were really quite a team.”

As time went on, Nancy grew sicker and the visits became more frequent. Around Thanksgiving in 2013, Nancy came down with a severe case of pneumonia, so severe that Bainbridge and his nurse Dora started to talk to the family about end-of-life care.

“The talks he had about death and things like that were hard,” says Randy, “but the way he and Dora handled it was outstanding.” Those conversations, he says, “made it easier for both of us, talks you never want to have about your mate, but things you have to face.”

During this difficult time, Randy and Nancy also grew close to UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Chaplain Stacey Gerhart. Randy said they had conversations about everything.

“It was almost like Chaplain Stacey had known Nancy for years,” says Randy.

Even after all of their preparation for end-of-life, Randy was still hopeful that Nancy was going to overcome her illness, fighting like she had with everything else. She did for six more months. On May 31, Nancy passed away at age 64.

It was a loss the UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s team wasn’t going to let Randy face on his own. Randy says the team has “always just been there for us and they continue to call me,” he adds. “It’s just been a blessing to have them.”

Randy makes trips to UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s to catch up with the team and even continues to seek out Gerhart’s words of spiritual guidance. Now however, he hears those words as a member of the congregation at Gerhart’s church. It’s a new Sunday tradition that Randy says Nancy would be proud of.

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