Hospice of the Chesapeake

Through hospice and other palliative care, compassionate support and education, Hospice of the Chesapeake improves the quality of life for those in our community experiencing advanced illness or bereavement. Attached is a letter written to Hospice of the Chesapeake by a local caregiver; it truly embodies the mission that Hospice of the Chesapeake seeks to uphold with all patients and families in our care:

My mother recently passed away peacefully after a brief battle with advanced lung cancer. One cannot imagine how difficult a statement that is to make until it is their time to make it. I am certain without my short encounter with Hospice of the Chesapeake, I would not be able to do it.

My mother was diagnosed in March 2005 with a lung tumor that was discovered through a routine Medicare physical exam. By the time we had determined what the tumor was, it was very advanced and tumors were growing in her brain, ribs, and elsewhere. The experience was shocking and surreal. We dug in to begin what I knew would be a short battle, but my mother was valiant and strong and simply would not go quietly. The first prognosis I was given by the medical community was 12 months. It was expressed that perhaps a positive reaction to certain treatments may in fact lengthen that prognosis by a month or maybe two.

She faced a radiation battery first to treat the tumors in her head and began to exhibit symptoms of the disease and the treatment. She became weak and hoarse but never complained or gave up. In fact, she minimized her symptoms and refrained from telling the physicians the "whole" truth. Of course being her son, I communicated openly and frequently with the doctors about her state. They were concerned with her weakness, effects of the steroid medication, and her ability to continue more aggressive treatments.

In what feels like a moment in time, she began to decline. She was proud and strong and held on to her independence as long as she could.

When it was time to visit the doctor for her first chemo treatment, she was too weak to walk even with help. We entered the office in a wheelchair and I knew we needed more help. I reached out to the head nurse and within the hour we had heard her response to treatment was not good and they could no longer proceed. I asked then that Hospice of the Chesapeake be invited in to our lives. The next three days were but a blur as we watched my mother slip away.

The support that Hospice of the Chesapeake provided was so valuable, I cannot even begin to express our thanks. All I can tell you is that your presence will impact our lives long after even I am gone through her grandchildren. Your staff helped us as much as they helped my mother. They supported our every need around the clock for three days without so much as a hesitation. Their insight into the disease, the process, and exactly what my mother would need was inexplicable. Her memory, the ways in which we will remember those last days, and our acceptance of the inevitable was absolutely shaped by the people we met over those three days. Not only did we provide my mother with her every need in her passing, but we all grew as individuals and as a family. We held her hand as she took her last breaths without fear but rather with respect, love, and compassion. There is nothing I can ever do to repay that debt.

I only wish Hospice of the Chesapeake could have been involved earlier. Our understanding now of the possibilities and the scope of advanced stage cancers, particularly lung cancers, leads us to realize just how comforting and helpful you could have been to her.

I write this letter to say thank you. But I also write this letter as a plea to whoever may read it to consider the person that carries any disease. Consider that disease is more than tumors and symptoms...it is truly people and families. No one knows this more, nor demonstrates it more effectively, than Hospice of the Chesapeake.

I hope one day the world knows about Nancy Hendrick Newcomb and her short battle with terminal lung cancer. Her memory serves her family through loyalty, commitment, and strength. Perhaps it can serve the community through awareness, understanding, and change. We loved Nancy very much. Now I know Hospice of the Chesapeake did too. You are the Shining Light in the medical community.


The Newcomb Family
David Newcomb Ryan and Ravyn Newcomb
Tracy Marks

To learn more about Hospice of the Chesapeake call, 410.987.2003 or log onto www.hospicechesapeake.org.


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