It's not easy spending Thanksgiving in the hospital with a sick loved one. I’ve spent two that way. I was in my late-20s, my mom in her late-50s. She was first admitted to the Cleveland Clinic in September 2006, after a heart attack left her in a coma. Against all odds, and to the astonishment of more than a few doctors, she came out of it and recovered enough to have a double bypass, only to then suffer a series of complications: stomach paralysis, nausea and vomiting, aspiration, severe pneumonia, a tracheostomy, ventilator dependency, further pneumonias, and numerous other infections. On top of that, during all the tests and scans, she was found to have lung cancer. And so she remained in the Clinic through October 2007—receiving radiation, fighting to free herself from the ventilator, trying to regain enough strength to undergo chemotherapy. In the end, she ran out of time. About a month into her stay at a long-term care facility—where I proudly watched her walk, on the arm of a physical therapist, for the first time in 14 months—the cancer spread to her liver. She spent a week in hospice and died at dawn on a Wednesday morning in early December as I lay sleeping on a foldout armchair by her side.
We're urging our community to resist the urge to volunteer around the holidays—the time of year when food banks and soup kitchens have more helping hands than they need. Join us in volunteering smarter and commit to serving on a day when the need is far greater.\n