In 2012, Martha Keochareon, a nurse from South Hadley, Massachusetts with pancreatic cancer, decided to make herself available to the nursing program at her alma mater. Ms. Keochareon invited nursing students into her home to ask her questions and learn first hand about caring for someone at the end of their life.
A New York Times article about Ms. Keochareon ends with a quote from Cindy Santiago, one of the two nursing students who visited her over the course of two months: “Who in her situation, to be like that, would call up and say, ‘Hey, I want to teach a student about my cancer?'”
A few paragraphs earlier, Ms. Keochareon's sister Ruth Woodward offers a possible answer:
“I notice that every time that Martha gave of herself she received far more. In fact, she received a few moments of less pain and I suspect that she received life itself — a few more hours, even days, with purpose.”
We hope that this project prompts more conversations like this: about what we need at the end of life, and what we might wish to offer.
- NY Times: As Nurse Lay Dying, Offering Herself as Instruction in Caring
- NY Times photo gallery