Hospice Was the Right Thing at the Right Time

By Ottamissiah Moore, RN

Photograph of Missy with her son, Demitrice

I am often asked how I managed to care for my oldest son during his brief battle with cancer. It has been the toughest task as a mother. I have worked as a nurse caring for people at the end of their life my entire nursing career. I have had wonderful stories and have patients and families I will never forget. I have been fortunate in that most cases ended well. I have had cases that ended in a short period of time with very little preparation or education about what could be expected. In some ways, this preparation eased my anxiety about knowing the right thing to do to support my son.

When Demitrice, my wonderful son, was diagnosed with advance kidney cancer, he was quiet and introspective but hopeful. Demitrice was a gentleman, a scholar, a brilliant artist, a comic, a writer and a really good friend to many. The very next day, I asked him a series of questions about how he wanted to live the rest of his life. The questions included if and how he would want people to visit visitors, the types of food he wanted, treatment options, surgical procedures and what his brother and I could do for him to feel good. Although I asked Demitrice all of the questions, he was more comfortable discussing his decisions with his brother.

Knowing his wishes gave me the strength and insight to make his days cheerful, pain free, and peaceful. I was grateful for hospice and the support they offered. Hospice offered a nurse, social worker, medical equipment, a chaplain, a home health aide and a doctor who coordinated all of care. This gave me the freedom to spend all my time with my son while they helped manage the details of his care. Hospice is a great option that offers medical, spiritual, and emotional support at a very stressful time. I spent my time laughing, eating freshly baked cookies, watching old movies and listening to my son review his life.

Demitrice lived a short 24 days from the day he was diagnosed. Demitrice transitioned peacefully at home in his sleep. Nothing I have every dealt with in my lifetime has compared to death of my son. The ability to care for him in the way he wanted has made my heartbreak easier to manage. Hospice was the right thing at the right time.

Ottamissiah Moore is a registered nurse who has a nursing career that spans over 35 years. Missy is certified in hospice care and is committed to supporting patients and families at the end of their life.

EOLCNY provides advocacy, education, counseling, and support to expand end of life options and improve care for New Yorkers.