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Hospice Donors Provide Relief for Area Families



Three times Liz Horlick’s family has faced the heartache of watching someone close to them deal with a terminal illness. Over the past 13 years, both her mother and step-mother were diagnosed with varying forms of cancer and her father Alzheimer’s disease. Each time, she and her family were grateful for the services of Sanford Hospice.

“I’d have to say that, from the onset, we were amazed,” Horlick said. “They gently asked the difficult questions, helped us with the difficult truths and, right along with us, cried as we made one difficult decision after the other.”

Horlick and her siblings first considered hospice when her mother, Marge Smyithe’s, cancer recurred for a fourth time in 2000. “We nearly lost her in early May 2000, but she rallied one more time until December when we were told the cancer was taking over in a big way,” Horlick said.

Horlick’s mother died in March 2001. Horlick’s father, Fred Smyithe, remarried and the newlyweds lived happily for nearly seven years. But her step-mother, Betty Smyithe, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given six to nine months to live. She died in October 2009.

With both cases of terminal illness, Horlick said their family knew they couldn’t handle the final stages alone. They didn’t have the means or the knowledge to be of much help or comfort, but it was still difficult to choose hospice services.

“Initially, the word ‘hospice’ meant that we were conceding to their cancers and giving in to death when, up to that point, their journeys had been all about hope and survival,” Horlick said. “Hospice had never been part of our family’s vocabulary, and it just sounded like we were giving up all that hope we’d worked so hard to build.”

Sanford Hospice, on the contrary, served all their needs and their experience was a relief. “Hospice was always there to take care of any discomforts and our greatest fears with the most amazing professionalism,” she said. “And they loved Mom and Betty with all their hearts, even on the most difficult of their days. That love was reciprocal, and Mom and Betty were so grateful for the time hospice spent making the end of their lives much less difficult.”

Horlick’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in August 2009 and entered Sanford Hospice in the fall of 2012. “I doubt Dad even remembers being on the other side of the door when both Mom and Betty had hospice care, but he knows his ‘hospice people’ are very special folks,” Horlick said. “He’s grateful to have someone to listen.”

Donations to Sanford Hospice provide support to ensure the very best specialized end-of-life care was available to Hospice patients and their families. It also helps provide bereavement programming, staff training and community education.

For more information about Sanford Hospice, visit http://bemidji.sanfordhealth.org/foundation (http://bemidji.sanfordhealth.org/foundation) or call (218) 751-5430.

Posted Date: June 2013

Hospice Donors Provide Relief for Area Families

Liz Horlick's family has faced the heartache of watching someone close to them deal with a terminal illness more than once. Sanford Hospice served all their needs and their experience was a relief.