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Hospice helps one daughter bear load

February 19, 2007

Re: ["Life on Her Terms," Feb. 5]: What a wonderful article.

My mother is an 88-year-old with congestive heart failure and is a client with San Diego Hospice. We had learned of their services after my 64-year-old sister developed pancreatic cancer in 2005.

My sister passed within four months. But congestive heart failure is so different. We are aware that my mother can have a final attack at any moment, but in the interim she has moved to an independent living facility close by. With their help and the invaluable help of hospice, she has had an unbelievable good turn in the quality of her life.

She looks forward to her visits by hospice nurses, caregivers and social workers. It has taken much of the burden I had expected to carry.

What a blessing it has been. Thank you for bringing these services into public view.

CHERYL SLOANE

Carlsbad

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The government is quite anxious for people not to seek the expensive treatment for diseases that cost a lot but usually extend life for a relatively short period of time. We have been bombarded in the media with the message that we should forgo treatment and "die with dignity."

Let me tell you, death is never "dignified." I have seen both my parents die, my father from heart disease and my mother from colon cancer, and it was ugly. The last few weeks of my mother's illness, she did have home hospice care. When the time came that she was no longer able to swallow, we asked that an IV be inserted to give her hydration and nutrition. The hospice service pressured us to not have it done. They even sent out a nurse who was a Roman Catholic nun (we are Roman Catholic) to say that she "didn't have a problem" with withholding nutrition and hydration.

We are, in my opinion, being brainwashed to save money.

KATHERINE G. MINSK

Long Beach

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