When the oncologist explained no further treatments would be helpful for Lourdes’ breast cancer, and it might be time to consider hospice, the Ramirez family went into a spin of second-guessing. Had they been too eager to embrace whatever medical technology had to offer? Not aggressive enough? And how could they choose hospice when Apolonio, Lourdes’ husband, refused to acknowledge she was dying?


Soon after starting on hospice care, Evelyn Landes turned ninety but was too weak and confused to celebrate. A year later, she greeted guests, including her hospice doctor, at her birthday party. The following month, she took a half-hour drive to attend her granddaughter’s baby shower. She talked about wanting to meet her first great-grandchild.


Regina Holliday thought hospice meant “giving up,” but it turned out to be a remarkable gift for her 39-year-old husband Fred and their young family. Fred had kidney cancer, and after a four-month nightmare of misdiagnosis and bad treatment in hospitals, he received great, compassionate care in an inpatient hospice. He rallied, ate heartily, enjoyed time with his sons and friends. “He loved it,” Regina said — until insurance rules kicked in and the hospice insisted on sending him home.