The Gunn Family Story

Compassion – this one word best describes the Gunn family’s experience at McNally House Hospice.

In 2009, Al Gunn, loving husband of Trish and doting father of Ryan and Aimee, was diagnosed with acinic cell carcinoma. Determined to maintain a normal life for him and his family, Al courageously fought the cancer.  He actively sought out clinical trials to participate in hoping that the research could help him, and more importantly help others in the future.  But when the struggle became too much, Al and his family looked to McNally House for help.

“Hospice sounds scary – nobody wants to go there, it’s a scary time in your life” explains Trish, “but McNally House made it not so scary for us.”

At McNally House Al, Trish and their two young children found something they never expected – compassion, caring and a place that understands.   Ryan (now 8) and Aimee (now 5), were made to feel at home whether that was hanging out in the playroom, gobbling down homemade cookies in the hospice’s kitchen, or playing a game of battleship with their Dad.

The comfort and welcome we received while spending time with their Dad meant everything to Al and Trish who cherished this very special time as a family.

“We felt at home here, everyone was so caring, it was normal to be greeted with hugs,” says Trish.  “The volunteers were amazing with the kids and making them feel at ease.  Every day Ryan would draw a picture for his Dad and the volunteers couldn’t wait to see it and hang it up in Al’s room.”  The normalcy and compassion the Gunn family felt meant when they couldn’t be at home, they could feel at home at McNally House.

In the spring of 2013, Al lost his fight with cancer at the very young age of 39.  But his fighting spirit and belief that you must pay all good things forward lives on in his children.  Al, who loved the outdoors, spent hours watching the birds from his window at McNally House.  This was such a favorite past time for him and his children that in honor of his Dad, Ryan, together with his cousins and his grandfather, have built birdhouses to be hung outside at McNally House for all residents to enjoy.  It’s Ryan’s way of paying it forward.  Its kind gestures such as this that McNally House hopes to inspire in all of us as we become an even more compassionate community.