Patient with Chronic Lung Cancer Becomes Hospice Caregiver

Jim Stanicki hopes to 'just be there' for hospice patients.

ByABC News
March 24, 2011, 2:07 PM

March 28, 2011— -- After several years of lung cancer treatments, surgeries and therapies that showed no progress, Jim Stanicki said he'd had enough.

Last year, Stanicki, a 60-year-old-man from Denmark, Maine, chose the option of palliative care, a form of medical treatment that concentrates on reducing pain and other effects of the disease, rather than attempting to reverse the progression of the disease itself.

"I realized that, for me, a day living on chemo is a day I'm not living," said Stanicki, who was diagnosed with bronchoalveolar cancer in 2007. "I'd rather walk outside, live a life, and breathe the air for as long as I can."

Stanicki has not only accepted his fate, but has become a leading voice on how to enjoy life, whether you know the end is coming or not.

"I seem to be able to deal with death a lot better than others, so it seemed like the work I am supposed to do right now," said Stanicki. "I'm not excited about dying, but I'm having a splendid end-of-life. I appreciate everything I have."

On, a health and wellness social network that covers a wide range of health conditions, Stanicki has been active in sharing the highs and lows of his chronic disease, while also becoming a voice of reason, comfort and wisdom, for other members in their end-of-life experience.

Now, Stanicki is on a new mission, a new "dying kind of work." He has finished nine three-hour hospice training sessions. With his own experience, Stanicki hopes to comfort others who are in their end-of-life.

"A lot of people, understandably, have problems with the end of their life," said Stanicki, "It seems to be something that I can handle well."

While Stanicki can't be sure when he will die, he said he feels healthy enough to make use of the hospice training while he can. But, still, hospice trainers were concerned when he entered the program.

"They were worried I'd die before the hospice patient," said Stanicki with a chuckle. "They figured that wouldn't be too good for morale."