ARTICLES / General /
A Terminal Diagnosis Does Not... /
By Linda Campanella
9. Allow as much opportunity for your
loved one to be doing rather than
always being done for or done to. A dying person
needs and deserves to be treated and valued as a
human being, as a person rather than a patient.
The notion of being helpless and a burden to
loved ones is as demoralizing and demotivating
as anything can be. Whether folding some laundry
or putting the tape on Christmas presents that I
was wrapping or opening the mail or looking up a
phone number or wheeling herself to the
refrigerator to pull out a yogurt for herself,
it was important for my mother to feel she was
still "good for something" and still the lady of
the house—her house, even when it seemed
overtaken by caregivers.
10. Welcome hospice as a companion and
guide on the journey of life as the journey
comes to an end. Hospice staff and volunteers are
angels on earth. Thanks to them, when we reached the
final destination we all—my mother and those she was
leaving behind—experienced peace and gratitude we
had not imagined possible at such a sorrowful time
in our lives.
My mother lived, fully and joyfully, for a year
and one day from her diagnosis.
A diagnosis of "terminal" cancer does not
terminate living. In reality, each of us has already
received a terminal diagnosis; we just don't know
how close we are to the finish line. Without denying
the reality that someone we love is going to be
leaving the party sooner than we expected or want,
it is possible to suppress that reality and go about
the business of enjoying the party while it lasts.
And it might last much longer than you expect. Or it
might not, but it can still be a lot of fun.
Linda Campanella is a management consultant;
her solo practice serves nonprofit organizations of
all sizes and missions. In previous stops along her
career path, she was a corporate executive in the
aerospace industry, a senior administrator at a
private college, and an international trade
negotiator in the executive branch of the federal
government. She is the author of the award-winning
memoir When All That's Left of Me Is Love. More
information about her book can be found at