Unlocking Memories

This is Jackie’s story

The impact MJHS Hospice had on my Aunt Jackie’s quality of life, and the support and peace of mind they offered me and my family, was profound.

My aunt was an independent woman, a former nurse and amateur musician who played the occasional gig in her native Brooklyn. While I live far away in Minnesota, I grew closer to her after my mom died in 1987.

Many years later, Aunt Jackie developed breast cancer. While she was sick, I did a great deal of research. When it was clear that her condition would not improve, I knew she would benefit from hospice. At first her doctor was reluctant to make a referral. So I kept pushing for it. I’m so grateful that I did… because that’s when MJHS Hospice entered our lives.

The original goal was to keep my aunt at home; to manage her pain and symptoms. And for a long time we did just that. Her extraordinary nurse, Pat, was caring, competent and wonderful at keeping me up-to-date on my aunt’s condition. Perhaps it was Jackie’s feisty personality, or the wonderful care she received, but she lived well beyond what her doctors predicted.

On one visit, her MJHS nurse noticed a huge difference in Jackie’s condition. She appeared to have had a small stroke. That coupled with a recent fall, declining memory and loss of cognitive ability made it unsafe for my aunt to remain at home. While this could have been exceedingly stressful for Jackie, and raised a number of challenges for me, given the distance the continuum of care offered by MJHS Hospice made all the difference in the world.

Jackie moved into an MJHS hospice residence. Her care team was extraordinary. Her nurse, Judy, all of the hospice aides and her social worker, Nick, were a wonderful group of caring professionals. Sometimes, my aunt didn’t make it easy. She could be difficult and cranky. The team responded with compassion, dignity and respect. And when the music therapist came, it was transformative, immediately unlocking memories and tapping into Jackie’s love of music. Her pain and distress melted away. Programs like music therapy are only possible thanks to philanthropic support.

I was able to come visit from time to time, and bring along other family members to see Jackie. We were all impressed with the residence and how much everyone cared. Importantly, when I couldn’t be there, the team went above and beyond. They called me regularly with updates, which offered tremendous peace of mind. Jackie passed away at the age of 81. My family and I can’t thank MJHS Hospice enough for the difference they made.


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“Every single day I thank MJHS doctors, nurses, social workers, as well as the chaplain and music therapist for their compassion, care and being our life saver.”

— Carmen Abruzzo