‘You couldn’t help but cry’: Hospice nurse helps fulfill patient’s wish to watch son’s football game

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This father was told he had only a few months left to live. Wanting to make the most of it, he wrote a bucket list of things to do before he died. On the top of that list was to watch his son play his season opener football game. Thankfully, he had a hospice nurse who made it happen.

A Terrible Prognosis

Scott Sullivan was diagnosed at the age of 50 with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. (1) This is a rare and fatal type of brain cancer. (2) His doctors told him he had just a few months to live before he would have to move into a hospice. (1)

Jerree Humphrey is a registered nurse and case manager at the Hospice of Lake Cumberland in Somerset, Kentucky. The pair became close quickly, bonding over stories of their children who were around the same age and loved sports. (1)

“Whenever I go and do his visits, we’d always talk about the kids,” Humphrey said. “We got close quick, and he became my buddy.” (1)

The Bucket List

She had been Sullivan’s nurse for about a month already when he received the news. Knowing he didn’t have much time left, he wrote up a bucket list. The number-one item on the list was watching his son Cade play football at his season opener. This would be the last game he would ever watch his son play. (1)

17-year-old Cade had a season opener coming up on September 11 in Belfry. Unfortunately, this was a three-and-a-half-hour drive from the hospice each way. Sullivan asked Humphrey what she thought the chances were of him being able to go. (1)

“I thought if it was that far, about a seven or eight hours drive, it really wasn’t feasible, you know. So he kind of laughed and he said, ‘Do you have a helicopter in your backyard?’” (1)

She didn’t, but that got her thinking that perhaps she knew someone who might be able to help. She was certain that there must be someone in the community with the means and desire to help them out. (1)

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Friends in High-Flying Places

Humphrey’s friend Kellie Baker was a manager at the local airport. She was certain that if anyone could help them it was Baker. She put in a call to her friend, who instantly got to work.

Baker connected them with Dr. Denny Brummet who owned a small plane that he kept at the airport. Upon hearing Sullivan’s story, Brummet was eager to be their chauffeur. (1)

“He was more than willing, he was so happy to take us and bring us back. He stayed and watched the game with us. It was just synchronized and he did a great job,” Humphrey said.

Brummet has been flying small aircraft since 1998 and is a part of AERObridge, a group that flies supplies to areas hit with natural disasters. (1)

“I was excited to do it, not only to help Scott, but just to get out of the house and go to a game for the first time since all of this quarantine began,” Brummett joked. (1)

Sullivan, of course, was ecstatic when he got the news that he had a ride to the game. He could hardly believe that his wish was actually coming true. (1)

“Everybody was praying for us — good weather and good health,” Humphrey said. “All the ladies at work, all the other nurses, they were excited. Everybody wanted him to be able to go.” (1)

Fast Friends

Brummet and Sullivan ended up hitting it off and quickly became friends. Brummet lost his mother just one year prior, so he understood somewhat what the entire family was going through. (1)

Brummet also has kids of his own who play sports, so the two had a lot to talk about. They even exchanged numbers so that they could continue to chat via text after the game. (1)

“It’s kind of an odd situation because, people have asked me, well it made you feel really good, well it’s kind of weird,” Brummett said. “Because we kind of hit it off, so it’s meeting a friend for the first time and knowing that their life is just short. It’s a bad deal, I hate it for him.” (1)

The Perfect Day

On the day of the game, Humphrey, Sullivan, and Sullivan’s girlfriend Christi all got into Dr. Brummet’s plane. It was the perfect temperature and the most gorgeous day that could have hoped for. (1)

They sat far away from the other people attending the game in case Sullivan had a medical emergency. Thankfully, nothing went wrong and all enjoyed the game from start to finish. (1)

“That day, whenever we went, we came around the clubhouse at the football field, and his son run up that hill to give him a hug, I mean, it was just like the sweetest thing ever, you couldn’t help but cry,” Humphrey recalled. “They’re best buddies,” (1)

Keep Reading: After her husband died from COVID-19, she found an emotional goodbye note on his phone

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