Finding Religion at the End of Life: Patients of Faith Seek Lifesaving Care

"They told me that it would be terminal," Holt said. "They would do all they could, but they couldn't operate."

Last week, Holt entered Alive Hospice in Nashville, Tenn., to spend her remaining time.

During the course of treatment, Holt said, knowing that a doctor operating on her had religious faith brought her comfort.

While her regular physician of more than 30 years knew her religious preferences, Holt said she merely wanted to know that other doctors had some level of faith.

"The doctor that operated on me for the colon cancer, I asked him, did he pray before he did his operating?" Holt said. "I wanted to know his connections with the Lord.

"He said that he did not, but he prayed all during an operation," she said. "I was very comfortable with that."

But specific beliefs or faiths are not important to her, Holt said, and she does have religious discussions with all of her doctors.

"To a lot of people, your religious beliefs are very private -- I think they leave it up to the patient," she said. "They know I'm a strong believer and I've expressed that."

But despite a lifetime of religious faith, Holt is not holding out for a miracle.

"After trying chemo, it just seems to actually make things worse," she said.

"I accepted what's happening quite some time ago and I can deal with that. I've had 81 beautiful years," Holt said.

She said she is content to spend her final days surrounded by her "beautiful children and grandchildren. You can't ask for anything more than that."

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