Former president Jimmy Carter officially in hospice care for one year

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – In the last chapter of life, some may need mental, spiritual, and medical guidance…which is exactly what hospice care provides.

According to Brandy Nobles, the executive director at Gentiva Hospice, patients are eligible with a physician’s diagnosis of 6 months or less to live under normal circumstances.

She says hospice care often faces the stigma of neglect, but former President Jimmy Carter’s journey may help combat that.

“It kind of gets the word out that it is available,” Nobles said.

Nobles and her daughter carry on the family legacy of nurses, and she says the guidance coming out of health care is just as important.

“Throughout a person’s lifetime they have a lot of caregivers, but we are their last caregivers so we strive to leave an impression to do the best job we can,” Nobles added.

Lillian Whichard, a hospice nurse who delivers medical and emotional care through home visits, also says Carter’s journey could spark interest and attention to these vital institutions.

“I thank Jimmy Carter for being public about his hospice care because I think it’s brought that to the forefront. We have so many families that don’t know about hospice and think it’s a death sentence,” Whichard explained.

Aaron Saufley is a hospice chaplain who says it also brings awareness to the job, which he says is a privilege to have.

“To be able to help guide them to a place of spiritual comfort and peace, that is the most humbling thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Saufley shared.

Carter was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 81 in August 2015 after having a lesion on his liver removed. After the surgery, Carter announced that the cancer had spread throughout the rest of his body.

Later that year, the Carter Center said he was cleared of cancer.