SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Typically hospice is used to help someone with a terminal illness, however, one KELOLAND family is grateful for the support and resources it provided for them as well.

Jenny was the love of Tom Rice’s life.

“When we got married and the pastor said, ‘What is it about Jenny?’ And I said, ‘Well, she keeps me in line and she’s forgiving and all things that a 24-year-old guy needed’,” says husband Tom Rice.

They grew a family together, with three children, and even a few grandkids. However, their world came to a screeching halt in February of 2018 when Jenny was diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer, only given six months left to live.

“And my mom is kind of an overachiever in all aspects, so she lived her best life, I would say, for about four and a half years. And then in September of 2022, we got the news that her treatment was not working anymore. And that’s when Dr. Rojas kind of just gave her the recommendation to go into hospice,” says daughter Meghan Hinton.

“In spite of the obstacles and in spite of knowing in the back of your head that she was going to be leaving us, you just never give up hope. You know that’s the love of my life,” says Rice.

They started out with home hospice, where nurses would come check on her once a week. However, as things became more difficult, Jenny decided it was for the best she move to Avera’s Dougherty Hospice House.

“Sometimes family members are to a point where they can no longer take care of their loved ones at home. We always have that place for them, so the family knows that they are taken care of,” said nurse Rhoda Waldner.

“She also did not want us to be the main caregivers for her either, especially towards the end. So I think she was comfortable knowing that she was here and being taken care of and we could just be a family unit rather than a caregiver-patient unit,” says Hinton.

“I remember getting into the vehicle with her and just the weirdest things that I thought of, she’s not going to see the dog again. She’s not going to see this house ever again,” says Rice.

Jenny was at the Dougherty Hospice House for 23 days before she passed away.

“We still have people checking up on us now, from like the hospice team, asking how we’re doing. It’s not once the patient passes away, they go away. It’s kind of it turns into a family, honestly, a family that you never wanted, but you are grateful that you have,” says Hinton.

The Avera Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls offers around the clock medical care.

Click here for more information on the Avera Dougherty Hospice House.