76. Hospice Care

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Millie's sister Arlene had been battling breast cancer for five years. Then the doctor gave Arlene some bad news. The cancer had spread to her brain and there was no treatment that would cure her. "I'll keep taking care of you," Millie told her sister. Millie and Arlene were both in their 50s, but Millie was 5 years older than Arlene. Arlene would always be Millie's little sister. Throughout Arlene's illness, Millie took care of things. Millie went with Arlene to all of her appointments. Millie went to all of Arlene's chemotherapy and radiation treatments. When Arlene lost her hair because of the chemo, Millie helped her pick a natural-looking wig. Arlene was appreciative, but also felt bad. Millie had a family of her own to take care of, and yet she spent most of her time taking care of Arlene.

Arlene told Millie she wanted to be put in a hospice. Millie did not know what that was. Arlene's doctor gave the sisters some brochures. The brochures explained that hospice care would try to make Arlene as comfortable as possible by providing pain management. They also focused on the emotional health of patients and their families by providing counseling. Millie was reluctant to place Arlene in hospice. Millie felt like she was abandoning her baby sister. Arlene insisted though.

"It's about time someone else wait on me hand and foot," Arlene joked. Millie went with Arlene to check into the hospice. Not only did the staff take care of Arlene, they also had activities for Millie, a member of the family. The staff told Millie that she could even spend the night here when she wanted. They asked Arlene what some of her favorite foods were so their chef could make what she liked. Arlene felt comfortable in the hospice.

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