Thursday, December 16, 2010

Farewell, friend of hospice movement...

This from Carol of our VNA Hospice Care:
Elizabeth Edwards, long an advocate of hospice care, died on December 7. Her lengthy illness and death received extensive media coverage, and much of it referenced her passionate support for hospice. For that support, Edwards was named NHPCO’s 2009 Person of the Year.

Edwards spoke at the 2008 NHPCO Clinical Team Conference several years after her diagnosis with breast cancer. On that occasion, Edwards said, “Throughout my life, both personally and professionally, I have had the opportunity to see how people have been affected by illness and loss and the role the healthcare system may have played as they dealt with change in their lives. I also know that people can find a great deal of hope, even in the most challenging of life’s situations. Hospice and palliative care professionals support and care for people at a time when hope can be hard to find. The professionals of NHPCO know more than I will ever know about providing that care; I know more than I wish I knew about receiving it, and I am happy to share my perspective with them.”

Edwards, who at 61 still had two young children at home, continued her treatments until her physicians suggested it was time to stop. MarketWatch blogger Kristen Gerencher wrote of her, “Recent research suggests that starting palliative care early — at the time of diagnosis — can actually prolong life and not just increase its quality. That doesn’t mean you have to give up on aggressive treatments, and it sounds like Elizabeth Edwards went that route as long as she could and as long as that made sense to her. Maybe her life and death will usher in a new era of frank talk about what end-of-life care can be when people have grown-up conversations about the trade-offs of various approaches.”

Politics Daily’s Eleanor Clift, herself an ardent champion of hospice since her husband’s illness and death, said, “Their time in hospice, brief as it was, allowed the Edwards family – Elizabeth and John, and their grown daughter Cate – to re-visit old wounds along with the new ones that ended their marriage. Seeing a loved one on his or her death bed tends to focus the mind, and for Elizabeth, who was courageous and clear-eyed all along about the progress of her disease, hospice gave her and her estranged husband a chance to heal those wounds, forgive each other, and sort out what they want for their children, Emma Claire and Jack, who are very young.” (Politics Daily)

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