DiversityNursing Blog

Medical Volunteers Help Terminally Ill Patients Visit Their Favorite Destinations One Last Time

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Mar 11, 2015 @ 02:48 PM

A Dutch organization called "Ambulance Wens" (Ambulance Wish) fulfills the last wishes of terminally ill patients free of charge thanks to its 200 medical volunteers.

The company says, "There are still too many patients who die without getting to close everything. One of those reasons is the inability to achieve certain desires because the patient is no longer mobile and other existing facilities are inadequate for this purpose."

Special ambulances and stretchers help transport the patients safely and comfortably. Typical excursions include a visit to the beach, a visit to a neighbor who is also no longer mobile, and various places where the patient has special memories.

This woman's final wish was to visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

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Another woman enjoys the view from her favorite vacation destination in Tuscany.
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This gentleman asked for one last view from the Euromast observation tower.
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And this man asked to see the mills in Kinderdijk one last time.
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Amsterdam is not the only place doing such wonderful things. A hospice outside Seattle made an old forest ranger's dying wish come true.

"Ed expressed one last hope to the hospice chaplain: He wanted to commune with nature one more time."

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As the hospice wrote on its Facebook page, "People sometimes think that working in hospice care is depressing. This story ... demonstrates the depths of the rewards that caring for the dying can bring."

Source: www.sunnyskyz.com

Topics: life, health, healthcare, medical, hospice, terminally ill, patient, treatment, care, wishes

How This Terminally Ill 'Super Fan' Scored Front-Row Patriots Tickets

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jan 21, 2015 @ 10:54 AM

By LIZ NEPORENT

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Cathy Nichols and son Jason were front and center at the National Football League playoff game last Sunday to witness her beloved New England Patriots clinch a spot in this year’s Super Bowl.

The Fayette, Maine, resident, 59, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer just two days before the big game. She said it was the support of a close-knit community, and the generosity of the Patriots, that brought her to what she believed will be the last football game she will attend.

“My son and I are super fans and when I got the diagnosis, I told him we probably weren’t going to get to go to many more games,” Nichols told ABC News today. “Now, not only did I get to see them play, but I was at a playoff game; it was just unbelievable.”

Nichols’ worship of Tom Brady and all things Patriots is well known at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, Maine, where she works as a special education teacher. So when she confided in several work friends about her illness, they immediately contacted a local sportscaster, who, in turn, reached out to the Patriots.

By Friday night, a team representative had called Nichols to offer her two tickets in the owner’s box to the playoff game.

Despite her rollercoaster of a week, Nichols said she was touched by the outpouring from friends and strangers alike.

“It isn't just the tickets, they’re doing fund-raisers and I’m getting calls from students and athletes I coached more than 25 years ago,” the former cheerleader coach said.

At Sunday’s game she not only had the best seats in the house, she was given field passes so she could watch the pregame warm-ups. Team owner Robert Kraft even called down to the field to make sure she was having a good time, before she returned to the box.

Nichols said she knows an invite to the Super Bowl was in the works but she put a stop to it. Doctors believe the disease may have already spread from her pancreases to her liver, she said, and she may only have six months to live. She doesn't feel strong enough to make the trip to Arizona for the February game.

But Nichols said she isn't bitter. Far from it.

“I am a very fortunate woman to have all this support and it makes me determined to be here as long as I can,” she said. “But I've lived a good life and I want to focus on quality of life over quantity.”

Source: http://abcnews.go.com

Topics: diagnosis, teacher, football, Patriots, playoffs, Super Bowl, health, healthcare, health care, medical, terminally ill, patient, treatment

Brittany Maynard, Death With Dignity Advocate, Dies At 29

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Nov 03, 2014 @ 10:52 AM

By Alana Horowitz

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Brittany Maynard, the Oregon woman who had become an outspoken advocate for patients' rights following her terminal cancer diagnosis, died on Saturday, the Oregonian reported. She was 29.

"Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love," she wrote in a Facebook post, according to People. "Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness... the world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers... goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!"

Earlier this year, Maynard learned that she was suffering from an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma and had only six months to live. After hearing what the disease would to her body in its final stages, she decided that she wanted to die on her own terms.

Maynard and her family, including her husband Dan Diaz and her mother Debbie Ziegler, moved to Oregon,whose Death With Dignity Act has allowed hundreds of terminally ill people to end their lives by taking a medication prescribed by doctors. She picked November 1st as the day she wanted to die because it was after her husband's late October birthday.

Since then, Maynard had become a champion for the law and for patients in her situation, working with the group Compassion and Choices.

"I am not suicidal," she wrote in a blog post for CNN.com. "I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms."

On Wednesday, Maynard released a new video that suggested that she might consider postponing her death.

"If November 2nd comes along and I've passed, I hope my family is still proud of me and the choices I've made. If November 2nd comes along and I'm still alive, I know that we'll still be moving forward as a family out of love for each other, and that decision will come later."

Maynard recently crossed the last item off her bucket list: a trip to the Grand Canyon. Before she became ill, Maynard was an active traveler and adventurer who lived in Southwest Asia for a year and once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

Topics: nurses, medical, cancer, patients, hospital, advocate, terminally ill, brain cancer, Death With Dignity, Brittany Maynard, terminal cancer, Death With Dignity Act

My Right To Death With Dignity At 29

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Oct 08, 2014 @ 11:18 AM

By Brittany Maynard

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Editor's note: Brittany Maynard is a volunteer advocate for the nation's leading end-of-life choice organization, Compassion and Choices. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Dan Diaz, and mother, Debbie Ziegler. Watch Brittany and her family tell her story at www.thebrittanyfund.org. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- On New Year's Day, after months of suffering from debilitating headaches, I learned that I had brain cancer.

I was 29 years old. I'd been married for just over a year. My husband and I were trying for a family.

Our lives devolved into hospital stays, doctor consultations and medical research. Nine days after my initial diagnoses, I had a partial craniotomy and a partial resection of my temporal lobe. Both surgeries were an effort to stop the growth of my tumor.

In April, I learned that not only had my tumor come back, but it was more aggressive. Doctors gave me a prognosis of six months to live.

Because my tumor is so large, doctors prescribed full brain radiation. I read about the side effects: The hair on my scalp would have been singed off. My scalp would be left covered with first-degree burns. My quality of life, as I knew it, would be gone.

After months of research, my family and I reached a heartbreaking conclusion: There is no treatment that would save my life, and the recommended treatments would have destroyed the time I had left.

I considered passing away in hospice care at my San Francisco Bay-area home. But even with palliative medication, I could develop potentially morphine-resistant pain and suffer personality changes and verbal, cognitive and motor loss of virtually any kind.

Because the rest of my body is young and healthy, I am likely to physically hang on for a long time even though cancer is eating my mind. I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that.

I did not want this nightmare scenario for my family, so I started researching death with dignity. It is an end-of-life option for mentally competent, terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live. It would enable me to use the medical practice of aid in dying: I could request and receive a prescription from a physician for medication that I could self-ingest to end my dying process if it becomes unbearable.

I quickly decided that death with dignity was the best option for me and my family.

We had to uproot from California to Oregon, because Oregon is one of only five states where death with dignity is authorized.

I met the criteria for death with dignity in Oregon, but establishing residency in the state to make use of the law required a monumental number of changes. I had to find new physicians, establish residency in Portland, search for a new home, obtain a new driver's license, change my voter registration and enlist people to take care of our animals, and my husband, Dan, had to take a leave of absence from his job. The vast majority of families do not have the flexibility, resources and time to make all these changes.

I've had the medication for weeks. I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.

I would not tell anyone else that he or she should choose death with dignity. My question is: Who has the right to tell me that I don't deserve this choice? That I deserve to suffer for weeks or months in tremendous amounts of physical and emotional pain? Why should anyone have the right to make that choice for me?

Now that I've had the prescription filled and it's in my possession, I have experienced a tremendous sense of relief. And if I decide to change my mind about taking the medication, I will not take it.

Having this choice at the end of my life has become incredibly important. It has given me a sense of peace during a tumultuous time that otherwise would be dominated by fear, uncertainty and pain.

Now, I'm able to move forward in my remaining days or weeks I have on this beautiful Earth, to seek joy and love and to spend time traveling to outdoor wonders of nature with those I love. And I know that I have a safety net.

I hope for the sake of my fellow American citizens that I'll never meet that this option is available to you. If you ever find yourself walking a mile in my shoes, I hope that you would at least be given the same choice and that no one tries to take it from you.

When my suffering becomes too great, I can say to all those I love, "I love you; come be by my side, and come say goodbye as I pass into whatever's next." I will die upstairs in my bedroom with my husband, mother, stepfather and best friend by my side and pass peacefully. I can't imagine trying to rob anyone else of that choice.

What are your thoughts about "death with dignity"?

Source: CNN

Topics: life, choice, nursing, health, nurses, health care, medical, cancer, hospital, terminally ill, brain cancer, medicine, patient, death, tumor

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