Maximizing quality of life is a high priority for Victoria nephrologist, Dr. Gaylene Hargrove. And it's a rule she applies as much to her patients as to herself and her family.
It was for quality of life that Gaylene and her husband, both keen on outdoor activities, chose to move to Victoria 17 years ago. And it is concern for the quality of life of her patients, especially those most compromised by disease, that drives her interest in palliative care.
"I try to take a palliative approach with all my patients in view of relieving their pain and discomfort," says Gaylene. However, she admits to a special interest in caring for the needs of patients nearing end of life. "I've always wanted to be there for a patient right to the end. As a specialist, I've never felt good about passing on care of a dying patient to their GP and then disengaging."
With her passion for end-of-life care, it should come as no surprise that Gaylene was recently appointed the new chair of the BC Renal Agency's Palliative Care Committee, succeeding long-time former chair Dr. Mohamud Karim.
Gaylene grew up in Drumheller, "Dinosaur country" as she calls it, where her mother, who suffered with rheumatoid arthritis from an early age, was her inspiration.
"Her doctors told her she would be in a wheelchair by 40, but she just said 'no' and showed me that mind over matter is a very real thing."
Gaylene did her medical training in Calgary, initially with the idea of becoming a researcher, but she soon realized her real interest was in having a connection with patients. And in nephrology she discovered an area where that connection can last for many years.
"Continuity of care is a big thing for me," she says. "I like going through the journey with my patients."
Gaylene is married and has two teen-aged daughters, both of whom are active in sports. She calls her husband, who is a renal technician, the "perfect soccer dad - he's there rain or shine for every practice and game."
For herself, she enjoys running for fitness and stress relief. She also feels it provides a good example for her kids and patients on the importance of staying healthy and, of course, for optimizing quality of life.