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Hospice Austin’s Blog

The end of a person’s life can so easily be consumed by chaos – pain, fear, grief, denial. Hospice Austin chaplains meet patients where they are, and, in the process of listening, bring comfort, peace, and invite patients to reflect on and define the meaning of their lives.

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Oct 18

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Pet Therapy

Several years ago, a patient was readmitted to Hospice Austin’s Christopher House late on a Friday afternoon. When he had been there before, he’d met Hospice Austin volunteer Rusty and her therapy dog, Faraday, a loving one-eyed white lab. As soon as this patient was wheeled into Christopher House on a gurney – before he even got to his room – he was asking for Faraday: “Where’s the dog? I need to see the dog.” Hospice Austin’s volunteer coordinator ran to call Rusty who immediately said, “I’m on my way.” She and Faraday drove across town and the patient was able to spend time with Faraday. He died two hours later.

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Rachel* lost her brother in an accident. Sandra lost her stepfather to suicide. Marty’s mom died of cancer and a few weeks later, his father died from complications of a heart attack. These are just some of the stories of the kids who attended Camp Erin Central Texas.

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In February 2017, 16-year-old Madelyn Shoales was diagnosed with a rare type of brain cancer. She underwent surgery to remove the tumor, followed by six weeks of radiation. One year later, when it became apparent that Madelyn would not survive her courageous battle, her last wish was to die at home. Her parents, Suzannah and Jason Shoales, and her Hospice Austin pediatric care team were determined to do everything they could to honor her wish. Bethany Miller was Madelyn’s RN case manager.

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The Austin-American Statesman’s Season for Caring campaign has made a profound difference in the lives of our past two recipients. As you may remember, our 48-year-old ALS patient Marcelo Gracia and his son, Gael, were featured in the Austin American-Statesman’s Season for Caring campaign in December.

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