Hospice helps the entire family.

A sister says goodbye

When Catherine Jordan’s brother Benjamin “Pete” Lewis Cherry, chose to spend his last days with hospice services, Catherine didn’t know what to expect. She works in healthcare as an Optima Health administrative assistant but hadn’t learned about hospice.

Pete was a Vietnam Veteran in the U.S. Army. He followed that service by another 30 years of service in the National Guard. Needless to say, he loved his country and was strong in so many ways. After a long-time battle with leukemia, which led to two stem-cell transplants from Catherine, Pete developed lung cancer. Once doctors determined chemotherapy would not be successful, he opted for hospice.

“We were all scared in the beginning,” said Catherine. “But hospice helped our family become more open with our emotions. They encouraged us and Pete to discuss our fears, our sadness and even our anger. They truly held our hands throughout the entire experience, and somehow transformed a dreary, scary and uncomfortable situation, and made it manageable.”

“Toward the end, we were able to learn to laugh, and weren’t afraid to,” said Catherine.

Shortly after his birthday celebration, Pete passed away on July 31, 2011.

“Pete wanted his last days to be the very best they could possibly be, and with hospice, they were,” he sister said.

While Pete opted for home care through hospice in his hometown of Aulander, North Carolina, Catherine is a major advocate for the Sentara Hospice House in Virginia Beach.

“Having this option for people here in Hampton Roads is so important,” she says. “If anyone has to make this tough decision for themselves or someone they love, I would tell them not to be afraid and that they will find comfort in knowing that they do not have to go through this experience alone.”

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