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Hospice Care Helps Families Make It Through the Holidays

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FAYETTEVILLE — This holiday season will be filled with happy times for many of us, but for families caring for a loved one with a terminal illness, the holidays can be anything but merry. Hospice nurses and volunteers try to make the last days special ones, whatever the season.

Richard Gross is hoping to live to see his family at Christmas. His lung cancer has spread throughout his body.

He is spending his last days at home with hospice care.

"I know death is inevitable in the not-too-distant future, and she'll make it as easy as possible," Gross says about his caregiver.

Hospice nurses and volunteers do not try to prolong life. Instead, they are there to listen, comfort and care for a terminally ill patient at home.

Nurse Angel Martin says what she does is "basically help people realize every day is important, especially when you are on limited time."

Volunteer Mary Cunningham has been known to sing, clean and cook for her patients. At an annual fundraiser for Hospice of Cumberland County Friday, she sold ornaments for the Tree of Remembrance.

"God has blessed me with health and strength and I'd want someone to be there for me," Cunningham says.

More people want someone there for them in their final days. Hospice has grown by nearly 17 percent in the last five years.

Richard Gross's wife calls Martin her angel from above. "They care, that's what helps me, I don't feel I'm alone," says Ludmilla Gross.

If you would like to participate in the Tree of Remembrance, you can buy a handmade ornament at Cross Creek Mall through Sunday. A paper angel will then be placed on the tree in memory of your loved one.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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