Patient with Chronic Lung Cancer Becomes Hospice Caregiver

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Family Focus

While it is important for hospice or palliative care patients to receive support and guidance, experts say a focus also must be on the family — the people left behind.

"Good hospice programs also try to provide support and comfort to the patients' caregivers," said Ashburn. "This care often needs to extend beyond death, to help the surviving spouse recover from the loss of someone they love deeply."

Stanicki said he worries about his family, and often thinks that his wife, daughter and son are in a worse position than he is.

"They're so brave," said Stanicki. "They've gotta deal with this, too. It puts them in a terrible position. Their lives are going to radically change, and it's totally out of their control."

"This whole dying thing is a big deal," he said. "You leave a hole. But you gotta go. It is what it is."

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