TROY — When Wanda and Bill Lukens gave a gift to help fund the building of the Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County Hospice House, they wanted their gift to go toward something that would be meaningful to them and other families.
Their donation went toward funding Steven’s Room, a cozy, homelike gathering place for family and friends. Located off the lobby and café in the future Hospice House, it will feature comfortable seating, books, games and a fireplace. Steven’s Room will be a place for family members and friends to gather, reminisce, talk and share stories.
The Lukens’ son, Steven Poore, battled cancer when he was 7 years old, and then again at 20.
“Both types of cancer were very rare and totally unrelated,” Wanda said. “The first one he was able to beat.”
The second cancer, discovered right after Thanksgiving in the fall of 1989 when Steven was in his junior year at Hillsdale College in Michigan, was incurable. Despite this heart-wrenching diagnosis, Wanda said, “Steven’s goal was to graduate from college. And he did.”
Through chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, doctors were able to slow the advance of the disease. But after nine months, Steven told his parents he wanted to stop treatment. In the middle of March 1991, illness forced him to come home from college. At that point, the Lukens called Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County.
Wanda recalled how wonderful the hospice care team was, praising nurse Noel Ranft, who is now a team leader at Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County.
“Noel was remarkable. She was only a couple of years older than Steven; having someone his age made a difference,” Wanda said. “We appreciated the comfort Noel and the team provided Steven while he was in hospice care.”
Steven loved to sing. At Troy High School and later at Hillsdale College, he participated in choirs and performed in plays and musicals. According to the Lukens’, Ranft took the time to get to know Steven, and they shared music, stories, dreams and concerns.
“If you have not had someone close to you who is terminally ill, you really can’t understand what it is like.” Wanda said. “The support, comfort and kindness provided by the hospice care team made a huge difference to our family.”
At that time, Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County did not have an inpatient care unit at Upper Valley Medical Center, so hospice care was provided in the Lukens’ home.
“Friends and family came to our house to visit,” Wanda said. “This was comforting to all. They gathered in our living room to talk, joke, reminisce and share stories.”
A week after his 22nd birthday in May 1991, Steven returned to Hillsdale College and graduated with his class, earning a B.A. in finance. Two weeks later on May 25, he died.
The Lukens hope that other families will be able to gather in “Steven’s Room” just as loved ones once came together in their own living room.
“The room that we are donating will make it possible for families to gather without being in the patient’s room or disturbing the patient,” Wanda said. “We believe in the mission of Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County. We want others to be able to celebrate life’s stories, just as we were able to do with our family.”