The Final Goodbye: Comfort & Guidance at Life's End

Kansas City's Morning News
Thursday, May 17th

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Thanks for joining UC KM BZ dot com for another exclusive KM BZ cover story I mean. And I'm Ellen shank can be easy cover stories take an in depth look at stories that are important to our families to our community. And to our everyday lives in the very. Public end of life decisions made by former First Lady Barbara Bush are the inspiration for today's cover story the final goodbye. Finding comfort at the end of life do you feel like you're waiting to done. You know I'm in I'm not I'm not add another moderate after that not hear it. This lecture us special moments where you go old photographs are you to order books I've gone through the ups and then just one band moments getting through the day I've gone through a stage depression can you feel like look at the person die and you should out of you know every single tactic right now I'm in Spain have tactics and pass it to the balance of the mundane and about the special. It's the end of life something nobody likes to think about something many of us fear something we spend too little time planning for and the hardest times are still to come. For Clayton passer her daughter Sarah. And her son Chris to treat. My that I was taking for stage 41 cancer was no longer working hand that he had. Options. For further treatment were very good ones. I opted not to continue treatment. And went on hospice you'd probably get this all the time to get this you look so hello. For a while I wondered I was here. And that might be the biggest misconception because not everyone in hospice is going to die tomorrow. I mentioned during a Q thinking that wanna start Hospira clinic at that point. Sarah Millsap has claims daughter. That kind of like well I'm not few weeks away from Donald I don't need hops. Clayton Nasr is in her mid seventy's she's a mom a retired medical publisher. Churchgoer and active go go go and Clayton and her family spoke to us for this week's cover story the final goodbye it was inspired by former First Lady Barbara Bush is end of life decision choose. Decided to go public with a very personal decision which is she's no longer. Pursuing a medical treatment for her underlying conditions there rather pursuing what's called comfort. Care ABC's Dan Harris back when the announcement was made by the bush family her high profile decision shined a light only choice. That local families face. Every day families like Clinton's but here's the thing. Clayton doesn't look like she's going to die tomorrow infects so many of us think of hospice as care in the final hours of life. When Clayton doctor gave the news he knew who she still had time but he still said. I would recommend that you go in the hospice as soon as possible. Hospice is really from the time that you make a decision to stop curative treatments and until dusk. From the end of curative treatment until death a finite period with no set end date. How's that make you feel. I'm never broken down and cry and I have been pounded on the walls I've gone through the ups. I've gone through a stage of depression right now I mean I think ahead think sentences. How did you get to acceptance. Is I think for many of us that is hard to fast. But I had cancer once before had breast cancer in the early eighties. Diet it was a dedicated smoker for many years so I could be terribly surprised. I knew it was beyond my control there was nothing I can do about it so Clayton started to take stock of the things that are within her control first and foremost her health. And how she would be treated as the end nears one. The first things they ask you this what are you afraid of course one of the first response is this pain. And the answer to that is we will not let you be in pain and I believe that I also know that there's a threshold where. You won't be in pain but they'll be gently pushing you toward the other side of the costs of less strength of the medication. But I I am not fearful of fast. That work that pain management at the end of life is handled by hospice nurse she does my. Blood pressure and that kind of thing checks with me about what my symptoms of that. In the hospice nurse treat you for symptoms in pain you might never have otherwise associated with a terminal disease so what is hospice care really like from the caregivers perspective. Here's mark avoid with the answer. It can be very very very peaceful doesn't have to be painful. Lauren buckles is around death all the time as a nurse at the saint Luke's hospice house in Kansas City. The topic scares most of us but she finds it very fulfilling providing care for patients and their loved ones. We're facing the end of life. She and other staff members help manage pain and they let people know what to expect as the disease process goes on. Sometimes it's not knowing the cause is greater anxiety it. Explaining you know in other situations. We saw this type of breathing pattern when the patient was you know our short acting army talk. This change in a vital part in Concord this change I'm in the physical appearance. Some people suffer no pain the process as peaceful and emotionally positive. The chances for that improve if a patient goes into hospice care earlier while there's still time to get ahead of symptoms and more treatment options are available. Thank you can get on early in half and can't independently and should come before there. Out of control. That's probably better than and getting aren't you late and train to kind of catch up for me just indebted. That may seem like a depressing career dealing with issues surrounding death and dying all the time that Lauren says she and her colleagues at saint Luke's no. They provide comfort for people who really need it comfort they can't find everywhere. Mark Lavoy news 981 KM BZ another way people find comfort at the end of life is through faith. Some pastors actually make death their life's work and as soon in a moment. Clayton passer he's dying of lung cancer. A few weeks ago the doctor told her that she had some time left but he didn't think it would be best spent on further treatment. Instead he suggested hospice even though she still has weeks or months to live. I'm just not at all taken back. And it certainly was nothing that frightens me. As we sat with claims for this week's cover story the final goodbyes. We quickly realized that she's approaching death with grace and with no fear so we asked her about her beliefs. I tend towards a more practical progressive side of christianity. And the important part of me is how Christ loves. And how he wants us alone can and should be used crystal clear what that is what you think is after this life I don't know. To seriously enough to know. Look I was like I think it's not just nothingness. And then the most. We just sort of birds into some godlike. One illness Clayton will no doubt be visited by her pastor and close church friends over the coming days and weeks. And religious guidance confession and prayer are part of the end of life for many Jim Cunningham joins us now with the story of a woman who has made being there at the end. Her life's work. For those who have come to know marry Lynda McDonnell there's one thing they say about her and she's okay with that. I dude did well. I hear from Sam Malays and I do death well. And with does grace self continue doing it well. McDonnell is a hospice chaplain with good shepherd hospice in independence. She says they are not fair to judge. I think that might be one thing that keeps people from getting on hospice. Somebody's gonna come in here and seeing me and say oh you shouldn't smoke you shouldn't drink or whatever was I don't know if we don't do that. We respect whatever lifestyle. We encounter and we tried it did end. McDonnell says there's some good can come from death for a majority of those dying and their family members it's reconciliation. The end of life brings live thoughts of you know our own mortality and we realized sit. Gee you know there's only so much time we hand. And everyone wants to miss it in the best ends up being relationship. McDonnell says she has a philosophy taken from the book of Genesis that she lives by every day. God made us and blessed us to be a blessing we are blessed to be a blessing that's my whole philosophy. I think that's the beauty of hospice. We intend to be a blessing to the people we serve. McDonnell says working with the dying and their loved ones is a great honor it touches me deep DeLeon my hard. To be able to come alongside people at the end of life and be a part of their lives Jim Cunningham knew sunny one KM BZ. Mary Linda mentioned family coming together and Clayton doesn't act like she's got too much about that. Choosing instead to focus on the days she still has some. But we know she's on about it because we asked her if she was worried that her out of town family like her son in California. Why not make it in time. In the last stages of Donna you have plenty of war you have warning that. Because we're patient doesn't just go like crap for patients just sort of slowly. Fades away yeah have you had a talk as then this is what I wanna see your friends and family forum. Now. You can have you have you thought about yeah. Now. Now can happen is it important to get a nursing so do you or is it already descended you know I feel about it. For me has failed them this is important to myself and think about it. There's probably one of the leasing favorite things to do this very difficult to do that. Yeah. Yes I well. In a few minutes sorting things out before the end literally as her cover story continues. Clayton had certain lives in assisted living in Hollywood for now she has stage four lung cancer an energy hospice. None of the final days of pro life but still she only has weeks or months left to live. Do you feel like you waiting to done. No. There were times when we work. Organizing my old apartment and getting out it took forever 'cause I had so much stuff I had generations of stuff. If you have generations and stuff get rid of and now. Clayton is a joy positive attitude accepting of her fate and living out the rest of her life. Day by day. And part of that process was like she mentioned leaving her apartment and going into hospice and an assisted living facility. And moving out. Sorting through what to keep and what to lay go she says it was not easy. Inclusive teary emotional it was heavy heavy heavy heavy weight. My sister and I we're throwing out things that we did wanna throw out low lake. Letters and we didn't have the time to sit there read all the letters we didn't know how many letters we should keep from the Philippines when my great grandfather was a Spanish American war. It we have boxes of it weighs heavily in what I hit weighs heavily I think is that your generations of history that you hold in your hands. But the redeeming part of sorting through the stuff the years the memories. Is doing it with those closest to you. I took my son and me a day goes through my CDs. And a day to go through my whole books at this mixture of special moments where you go old photographs are you to order books and then put that. Chris has serious Clayton son. And then just. One band moments you know just just getting through the day you know you feel like look at the person die and you should you know every single track ignition church but you know she's tired he's been taken out or you need to go to the store and get something. And so it's just the balance of the mundane and about the special. East there's some. Comfort. In going through all of that. With the people who are closest to you yes especially in my case because I'm thirteen years old and my sister. So the remaining occasions where I was telling her who people work. And what they dented its people that I remembered that she may not remember what did you bring where he. That was so important that you want it to be this close to you to that area. My family would say furniture. Because I have a lot of Stanley Furniture and have a lovely antique furniture and I love every single solitary piece of when I when I came in my family and the movers were walking by with these pieces of furniture. There was evidently the nurses through nurses station saying. Not gonna happen. Not gonna. You know it won't and shouldn't later on people came the other way carry them furniture of the opposite direction. So he told you it was a good yeah. And perhaps the most important thing Clayton has within these days is your revised outlook on life to keep remembering in the days. That this is an important day. Studies say yes this isn't important it is just as many okay. An important perspective for Clayton and for her family for sure. But something for the rest of us to think about as well especially. Since we all think we have our whole lives in front of us all. Clayton passer is in her mid seventies she lives in Hollywood. And she's dying she knows it her family knows it stage four lung cancer is slowly killing her and the end is near. May be weeks maybe months remained and she seems to be hearing one particular question how can you be used so. Casual. Are you being casual about it. I don't feel so but nobody really knows my inner life easier not being casual about how are you being about a waiter. Aware of what's going on. And accepting of what's going in accepting of what's going on. And to those of us who think we be fighting and scrapping for every last minute owners. That might be an eye opening approach to the end of life are Caremark share. Met a woman who sees claims approach to the end of life and wonders if she's on to something they Clayton might have it right while so many of us may be doing desk. Wrong. Jesse is hard to talk about hard to think about even when you worked in the hospice field for years Karen Han hold knows that all too well she's the development director Casey hospice. And lost her sister Cindy to pancreatic cancer in March less than six months after she was diagnosed. He has very quick to. Realization for somebody that's pretty young and look otherwise healthy that and you know that we all have to come to terms with including parallel treatment can only do so much and then we had to decide what to do from mass. Terrence is in January Cindy was seeing the writing on the wall. She was starting to recognize that she probably wasn't going to get batter and she didn't wanna continue to live. With the pain and and feeling sick and then all of those things and show how she really kind of gave permission. For the rest of us to start to come to terms without. But she didn't and our hospice until about a week before her death appearances they could've gotten more support at a hospice if they'd ended treatment sooner. Because people think pot that is as giving up. Am I off and they they come on how hot that's really too late to get the full benefits of what we can do and and actually studies show. That Japan people who come on talk hospice I tend to have slept just a little bit longer and have a better quality of life. And then they can focus on what's really important at the end Caremark Serb news 9801 KE NBC palace Clayton passer. To be remembered with zippers that. Someone who has time. Caring and loving outspoken and active and as for how she wants to remain in her children's hearts and minds they don't want them to remember most of all is how much I loved. Plan what good times we had together. And what fun. And keep me in the minds of my grandchildren. The final goodbye another exclusive KM BZ cover story if you have an idea for a cover story for our person of the week for another in depth story list now email has said Elena key NBC dot com or EJ AK and we'll see you Monday through Friday five to 10 for Kansas city's morning news. On news 91 KM BZ and here where you can listen live became BC dot com.