I am Sandy Hamilton and am grateful and humbled to share some background information and insight as to why I readily agreed to share my family’s Hospice of the Panhandle story. My family’s story is the subject of a commercial currently airing on local TV and radio stations.

I never doubted the value of Hospice of the Panhandle in our community. However, it wasn’t until I personally had a need that I truly understood that value and the life-changing impact on my life, and especially my parents’ lives. I am the oldest of three sisters who grew up in south Berkeley County, West Virginia. My parents met in the 1950s, married and started a family. We are a close family. My mother was very healthy most of her life, until cancer disrupted her life and subsequently, the lives of our family, especially my dad.

My mom was a fighter and married for more than 50 years to my father. She had no intention of allowing cancer to be the victor. She fought and won, temporarily. When the cancer returned, it returned with a vengeance! I was traveling south on vacation when I received a phone call from my father. He called me to communicate the conversation from mom’s oncologist visit that day. He said, “Sandy, the doctor said there is nothing else he can do and suggests that we contact Hospice.”

My dad was hesitant, because he felt mom would view that as being a death sentence, and she would give up the fight and will to live. He said, “She will think she is dying.”

I replied, “Dad, we are all dying, but Hospice can help us all enjoy our time with mom more, whatever God deems that time to be.” He agreed to make the call that supported us all, not only during mom’s last earthly days, but in the days that followed, as well.

Hospice of the Panhandle immediately responded, assessed our individual needs and met those needs. They particularly met the need for my father to have some relatively guilt-free time away from my mother to pursue his passion of working in his garage. His time away helped my mother feel less like a burden, although Dad never thought of her in that manner. She was accustomed to being in charge in the house, and Dad was accustomed to “fixing things” that are broken. Hospice of the Panhandle allowed them to experience those roles, in a limited capacity.

We experienced caring, compassionate, responsive and dependable professionals who became and remain friends! I regret that cancer entered my mom’s body, and I regret that we didn’t call Hospice of the Panhandle sooner. The first regret is outside my control, but the second regret can change for those of you are reading this and have a need. Hospice of the Panhandle is for the living.

Call them now. I am so glad my dad made that call!

Sandy Hamilton is the executive director of the Berkeley County Economic Development Authority. To find out how Hospice of the Panhandle can help your family, call (304) 264-0406 or visit the web at www.hospiceotp.org.