East Texans discuss dying with dignity - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

East Texans discuss dying with dignity

Mary Ann Whiteker Mary Ann Whiteker
Whiteker's mother Mary Bolton was a cancer victim. Whiteker's mother Mary Bolton was a cancer victim.
Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with cancer Tuesday. Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with cancer Tuesday.
Demetress Harrell is the Senior Executive Director of Hospice in the Pines. Demetress Harrell is the Senior Executive Director of Hospice in the Pines.

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Mary Ann Whiteker holds a photo of her mother Mary Bolton. Whiteker said she knows what it's like to wait for death.

"For me personally, one of the hardest things to deal with was having to deal with those final plans, things that had to be done," said Whiteker. "You keep wanting to put it off."

Whiteker's mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After undergoing treatment, she was told her tumor was inoperable and the cancer had spread.

"I think the greatest sense of concern I had was not seeing her suffer and knowing that that was not the way she had thought her life would end and so I think that was the hardest thing," Whiteker said.

Whiteker's mother died just three months ago. She understands what Elizabeth Edwards' family is going through. The 61-year-old estranged wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards died in North Carolina Tuesday morning after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Just Monday, the announcement was made that further treatment for Edwards' cancer would be unproductive.

Demetress Harrell with Hospice in the Pines in Lufkin said terminal illness knows no age.

"We have some teenagers right now and I think that that is extremely hard for our staff to cope with because everyone has children," explained Harrell.

Harrell said aside from physical problems, patients go through different emotional phases.

"One of the things that is often associated with Hospice is of course the death and dying, but we never really value the hope," said Harrell.  "One of the things we always encourage is bring as many family members into the bedside, to the living area as possible."

Whiteker said Hospice, her faith and family helped her endure, but she took it one day at a time, knowing goodbye is never easy.

"You're never ready to give up your family," said Whiteker.

Hospice in the Pines said family is crucial when there is a grim diagnoses.

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