A Hospice Worker's Life: Photo Essay

By Diana K. Sugg, Photos by Monica Lopossay

What does it feel like to help dying patients through their final days? Experience it through the eyes of hospice nurse Jill Campbell, who does her job with grace, compassion, and gratitude.

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Toni Stein

Tough Choices

In the bedroom Campbell carefully lays out her medical supplies, and patient Toni Stein seems to steel herself. The Baltimore woman's lung cancer has spread to her bones and she has signed up for hospice care. The support she gets helps her avoid hospital stays and late-night visits to the emergency room. And hospice lets her be at home in her cozy townhouse with a pretty garden out back. But she has questions: Will she need a hospital bed? Is there someone to help her with her grief? To both questions, Campbell says yes.

Stein is lucky because she has a lot of support. Her daughter helps when she can, and hospice volunteers pitch in with grocery shopping and walking the dog. Right now Stein is agonizing over her decision to stop chemotherapy. It made her so sick, and it has almost no chance of helping her. Nevertheless, she is reconsidering. "Toni knows she is dying but she isn't ready to accept it. And who would be? I can't blame her," Campbell says quietly. "She's very scared."

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