Hospice is about life, dying nurse says

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The Des Moines Register | March 23, 2016

Joyce Hutchison takes short, fast breaths. The 75-year-old knows they are among her last.

She is dying of lung cancer. Her doctor says she has a month left, maybe two.

The brink of death is a familiar place for Hutchison. Nearly 40 years ago, she helped establish hospice care in Iowa.

She was the first nurse hired at the first hospice house in the state, Hospice of Central Iowa, and in the years since has helped scores of patients and their families accept death.

Now she faces her own.

“I am not afraid to die,” she said. “I might be afraid of what I have to do to get there. But I am not afraid of death.”

Before she gets there, Hutchison wants to help those traveling a similar path one more time.

She is writing a book that shares the lessons she has learned while dying.

“Even though I know I’ve only got a month or two left, I try to enjoy every moment as the blessing it is,” she said.

That she is spending her final days making a gift for the dying and grieving says much about her.

“That’s so Joyce,” said Kathi Sircy, a friend and a member of her prayer circle. “Even facing what she is facing, she is still thinking of how she can help others.”

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