Tag: hospice

Choosing Hospice is an active choice

by Gail Hamm, program director

We can all think of words that have a positive meaning for one person and a negative meaning for another. For some people hospice means “I’m giving up” or “he’s giving up”. I have heard this over and over and just read it again in a journal article. But I believe that choosing hospice is a very active choice, not a passive one. It means taking charge of one’s life, and most of us would agree that is a positive thing.

I have vivid memories of working with a gentleman with lung cancer and his wife when I worked at a local hospice. “Matt” chose not to seek treatment. He went on disability and used his last year to be with his wife and grandkids, take care of his home, and spend time with his friends.

During the year I worked with Matt and his family, Matt continued to live. He no longer went to his former job, but he kept busy at home, doing the things he loved. His grandchildren were frequently in the home, and I was able to spend time with them.

Matt’s quality of life was good for a number of months, but gradually there were changes. He could no longer hoist bags of mulch into his truck. He mowed the small patch of grass by his home, over 2 days, not in an hour’s time. Eventually, his wife mowed the grass.

Matt had time to ponder life and death. I was privileged to be a witness as he was baptized by the hospice chaplain in his home before becoming bedfast. Eventually, Matt was able to communicate less and slept through many of my visits while I conversed with his wife, listening and supporting her in the final weeks.

I never thought Matt gave up when he opted for hospice. He chose to be in charge. And he remained in charge, directing his final days, living and dying by his terms.

Cancer Services works with our clients through every step of their diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and at times, end of life care. Sometimes, in spite of the best treatment, there comes a point when no further treatment will change the course of the disease. Cancer Services’ advocates work with clients and their families to understand their options and support them in their decisions to take charge of their lives.

November Represents Awareness for a Multitude of Cancers

November is awareness month for lung, pancreatic and stomach cancers, and marrow transplants. It also honors caregivers, hospice and palliative care of people with cancer.

There are different diagnoses of lung cancer, and each is treated differently. Lung cancer affects the lungs’ ability to function to their full capacity.

Pancreatic cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths because of its rapid growth and inability to detect in its early stages. Most cases of pancreatic cancer are advanced, meaning surgical removal often isn’t possible.

Stomach cancer, uncommon in the United States, can also be referred to ask gastric cancer, both terms most often refer to stomach cancer that affects the inside lining of the stomach, adenocarcinoma.

Caregiving for a loved one with cancer can be a full-time job. The medical, emotional and practical support that caregivers provide are a constant reminder of hope for a person with cancer.

Indiana Cancer Consortium’s Choices for End of Life Seminar

Indiana Cancer Consortium’s Quality of Life Action Team presents: Choices for the End of Life, a seminar for health care professionals.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana

6316 Mutual Drive, Fort Wayne, IN 46825


“Hospice Experience: A Caregiver’s Story”, Sarah Stoffel

“Hospice and Palliative Care” SueAnn Reynolds, President & CEO, Family Hospice and Palliative Care, Berne, IN

“Starting the Conversation”- Dawn Schweickhardt, LCSW, Social Worker, Parkview Home Health & Hospice, Fort Wayne, IN

“Hospice & Palliative Care- A Physician’s Perspective”, Robert Crook, M.D., Hospice and Palliative Care Medical Director, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Home, Fort Wayne, IN

For reservations: http://iccqualityoflife.eventbrite.com/

Sharing Ideas Across the USA

by Gail Hamm, program director

Dianne and I just returned from a CANSA conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. CANSA is a loosely knit organization of local, not-for-profit cancer service agencies from across the country. Some were formed in the 1940’s, as was Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana (1944), and others are relatively young (5 years or less). Some of these are 1-person volunteer agencies and others are larger with paid staff.

This group tries to gather yearly to share ideas and provide encouragement for each other. Much mentoring occurs at these gatherings, as does idea gathering for programs, and of course, a bit of fun. The ideas shared by sister agencies often show up as new programs or new ways to evaluate programs. Many cancer clients and their families across the country are benefitting from our meetings, phone calls and emails between conferences.

You can find a local cancer service agency by checking with your county United Way, a hospital or hospice social worker, or by calling me at Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana. We have a list of many agencies like ours across the country, but are constantly looking for more of them.

No matter what community you live in, be sure to share your time, talents and financial resources with your local cancer service organization. What a difference we all make!