Veterans helping Veterans

Posted October 16, 2014 by hpccr
Categories: caregiving, end of life, hospice, Veterans, volunteering

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by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

vets helping vetsDo you know who truly understands Veterans?  The answer is easy: other Veterans.  That’s why HPCCR is in the process of recruiting Veterans to help the patients under our care who could probably use their help the most — their fellow military comrades.

Watching Veterans interact is like watching a TV show in a different language; you can tell what the emotions are, but you’re not sure what they’re saying.  They have their own body language, their own speech patterns, and their own terminology.  If you’re a member of this unique society, you understand.  If you’re not, you watch with a mixture of awe and appreciation, instantly realizing that Veterans have a bond that goes much deeper than outward appearance.

That’s why this program is so valuable. The HPCCR Veteran-to-Veteran Volunteer Program will pair recruited Veteran volunteers with hospice patients who have served in the military. The volunteers then have the opportunity to relate and connect with these patients who share similar military backgrounds, creating a safe environment for sharing experiences. Our patients can talk to someone who truly understands their emotions; someone who’s been in their shoes and likely felt the same confusing combination of fear, frustration, pride, excitement, and elation that comes with serving in the military.

Veterans can help hospice patients in many ways — listening to their stories, helping them understand their benefits, assisting in replacing lost medals, providing transportation, and advocating for them in hospice team meetings.  More importantly, these volunteers validate the experiences of patients.  They offer much-needed recognition of a crucial time in the patient’s life.  They honor the sacrifice that these hospice patients made to protect the freedom of their country.

Veteran volunteers will be matched as closely as possible by specific branch or duty.  They will receive special training, similar to traditional organizational volunteer training, but with some extra emphasis on the needs of Veterans.  They will shadow other volunteers visiting Veteran hospice patients and will be allowed to ask questions and “debrief”.  Veteran volunteers have the unique opportunity to interact with patients who may have previously been unreachable.

If you are a Veteran who has time to help a fellow soldier, please contact Crystal England at 704.335.3578 or find out more about the program at

Chanel No. 5

Posted October 8, 2014 by hpccr
Categories: hospice, cancer, blog, awareness, caregiving

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by Phyllis Zellmer, HPCCR patient

Chanel No 5There are certain chemo drugs that prevent a patient from using fragrant lotions.  I’ve learned all about the non-fragrant products and decided to lend my considerable consumer influence to champion Aveeno.  This product is great for those undergoing any type of medical treatment that has you scouring the aisles of Rite Aid while scratching your back, butt, and legs at the same time.  You will not look like Jennifer Aniston after two-weeks usage but your skin will repair itself.

All this being said was not to minimize how much a woman desires her fragrant lotions.  My son exclaimed, “My God, Mom has her own Bath & Body Works store in this drawer!  And there is more upstairs.”  Nonsense.  I only buy some of my favorites products online during their closeout sales.

It is just awful to have a favorite signature fragrance, like Clean Cotton, only to wake up one day and discover the marketing department of Bath & Body Works has decided to slightly change the formula to appeal to a wider audience.  This really translated into “not to just old ladies.” So the newer fragrance became Sea Island Cotton.  I even checked out the ingredients to make sure this savvy consumer was not being ripped off.

During my third year of chemo, my friend, who I call the “Elizabeth Taylor Look-Alike”, gave me a bottle of Channel No. 5 lotion.  Oh my gosh, one sniff of that fragrance and it was as if the Sea Islands had fallen to the bottom of the ocean.

Unfortunately, I was on Gemzar which meant I could use only non-fragrant lotions, avoid sun, yada, yada, yada.  I dutifully did all the right things while the pink bottle of Channel stood haugh­tily in the fancy storage caddy next to my tub. Every month or so, the dust would get wiped off the black cap and I’d think, “Could I use that now?” Then those nasty side effects would appear just from trying Sea Island Cotton again, so my Channel went back to collecting dust.

One of the things that hospice does is provide help for every conceivable comfort that can be reasonably managed.  This includes sending out a CNA to help with bathing if needed.  Sorry to say, that little issue had to be addressed our first hospice week because I was just too weak to stand and wash my own back.  You hate it, but what are you gonna do?  The Lord has sent you some support, so are you going to say, “Nay Lord. I think that I’ll just pass out in the shower and stink for the rest of the day?”

Today when Janee, my CNA, came to help me with my toiletry, things got very aromatic around here.  I have been so nauseous for two days.  In this condition, you get weak and weaker as the malady literally drains you.  Of course, there is a shower seat inside our ample new bathroom but it does not prevent you from falling off the “half-moon” if you are not holding onto something besides a scrubby.  After shower time was over, the drying-off phase of “the lady’s toilet” started.

During the towelling-off time, I sit on a stool and behave like a baby.  I get dried from head to toe before I am allowed to stand.  No matter that Janee could slip and fall in the water we’ve splashed onto the floor, but I digress.  When the patting dry began, I looked over at the basket holding all of the fine toiletries a lady could ever want.  Janee and I eyed that little pink bottle at the same time.

“Miss Phyllis, what do you want to smell like today?” is barely out of her mouth before I lift the dust-covered bottle and ask her opinion of Chanel No. 5.  “Elizabeth Taylor Look-Alike” would have been proud to hear of Janee’s endorsement of this elite fragrance.

Janee dusted off that bottle and started smoothing lotion on my back and arms, and then took a break to gather crushed ice for the nausea, but nothing stopped us from getting that lotion rubbed in from my head to toes.

Our bathroom smelled like a salon and the fragrance followed me as I hiked from the bathroom to the screened porch where I spent the rest of the day admiring how nice I smelled, despite filling up a couple of barf bags.

Isn’t the Lord grand?  It was an absolutely beautiful day.  The Chanel did not camouflage the reality of nausea, but it just did not seem to be as awful as it could have been.

If I could do more. . .

Posted October 1, 2014 by hpccr
Categories: awareness, grief, hospice

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by Carol Anne Lawler, HPCCR Faith Community Liaison

grief helpWhen someone you love dies, it seems the whole world should stop, or at least pause, so that you can take a moment and let the entire world know that your loved one was here.  They were important.  You shared a life together, and you sorely miss their physical presence.

The part of grief I cannot understand is that the world doesn’t stop.  It doesn’t even slow down.

I was reflecting recently that when I learn of the death of a team member’s or a friend’s loved one, I feel compelled to not only send a card, but to make a memorial gift, however small, in their loved one’s name.  I make this gesture because when someone dies, there is a so little I can do for the one(s) that are left behind.  I am left feeling helpless, and at the same time, I want the bereaved to know I am witness to the fact that their loved one was here, and they did make a difference!  Their life mattered.

Again, when someone you love dies, we (your friends) may not be able to give the sort of comfort we would like to give, as everyone’s grief journey must be taken on their own.  One small act of giving a gift in their memory to Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, or other charity of choice, may silently let you know that others see you, care about your pain, and acknowledge this profound change in your life.  And I honor your journey and honor the memory of your loved one.  If I could do more, I would.

Heartfelt thanks

Posted September 24, 2014 by hpccr
Categories: awareness, fundraising, hospice, Levine & Dickson Hospice House

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by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

ABCares checkFolks, we want to thank you for showing us (and when I say us, I mean Levine & Dickson Hospice House – Huntersville) some major love a few weeks ago.  We asked you for your help when we needed votes for the ABCares competition sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group and you answered the call.  Well, we didn’t win, but we didn’t lose either.  This week, we were presented with a check for $500.

That amount of money can go pretty far in the not-for-profit world.  Every single donation to our organization allows us to focus on our patients and their families.  It allows us to care for anyone who needs us, regardless of their situation.

As they say, turnabout is fair play.  So thank you for being there for us when we needed you.

Don’t worry, we’ve planned your Saturday

Posted September 18, 2014 by hpccr
Categories: fundraising, hospice, Hospice & Palliative Care Lake Norman, special events

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by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manger

September is always a busy month here at HPCCR.  As you know, we just had our Hit the Brixx 10K / 5K last weekend.  (What a turnout, by the way!  More participants than ever, despite the soul-crushing humidity!)  Well, we’re doubling up on events this weekend because, you know, we like to give you a choice when it comes to supporting our organization.

This weekend, you can either shoot guns (safely) or eat appetizers and drink wine.  Or do both.  Your call.

Bull Shooters Logo_30First up is the Shoot For Joy sporting clay fundraiser, an event hosted by the Mecklenburg Bull Shooters.  It starts at 8am on Saturday morning.  You can shoot clay targets during the morning session, take a break for lunch (and a raffle!) and then shoot again during the afternoon session.  You can go solo or as a team and all shooting levels are welcome!  For more information, visit the event page on our website.

taste of bv words_2013Your other option is our annual Taste of Birkdale, which supports Hospice & Palliative Care Lake Norman.  It starts in the afternoon on Saturday (3pm) and you get to sample entrées from some of Birkdale’s best restaurants and wine from Total Wine.  After you’ve enjoyed those delectable treats, you can feast your eyes on fall’s latest must-haves during the fashion show that starts at 7pm at the fountain.  This evening never disappoints.  Check out the Taste of Birkdale page on our website for all the details.

So there you have it.  We’ve planned your weekend for you.  You’re welcome.


A little rain never hurt you

Posted September 11, 2014 by hpccr
Categories: awareness, Chameleon's Journey, Hit the Brixx, hospice, Kids Path, special events

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by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

???????????????I think we can all agree that this summer has been fairly mild compared to recent years.  The number of 90-plus days has certainly been reasonable.  In fact, until the last few weeks came upon us, I thought that maybe we’d somehow gotten away with what I’ll call a “demi-summer”.  Alas, it was not meant to be.  The nasty heat and humidity came back with sudden force right before Labor Day and, yes, we’ve all wilted.  We could use a little rain to break the heat!

Funny I should mention that.  We just might get some rain this Saturday (September 13) which, coincidentally, is our annual Hit The Brixx 5K / 10K Run Walk.  But you wouldn’t let a little rain deter you from getting out there and killing the course, would you?  I certainly won’t.  Because lemme tell ya, I’ve had some draining, hot suffer-fests over the past few weeks where I was actually dreaming about a certain run I had in the pouring rain a couple of months ago.  Honestly?  It was glorious!

So, if you haven’t already signed up, do it now, before the price goes up on Saturday.  Both races start and finish at the uptown location of Brixx Pizza (their 6th street location).  The 10K starts at 7:45am, and if you’re nuts like me, you can run the 10K and then fit in the 5K at 9am with no problem.  Because you know what’s waiting for you at the finish line, right?  Brixx Pizza and beer.  A most delightful combination indeed!  And it tastes even better early in the morning when you’re supposed to be indulging in cereal and milk.

You know what makes it even better?  Your race entry fee, which allows you to run a few miles and then enjoy amazing pizza and cold beer, goes to support such a worthy cause.  Proceeds benefit Kids Path®, the pediatric care program of HPCCR.  Kids Path helps children and teens coping with long-term or life-threatening illnesses by offering services tailored specifically to their needs and those of their families.  Included as part of our Kids Path program is the Chameleon’s Journey™ grief camp, a weekend retreat (this year on October 11 and 12) for grieving children and teens.  Your entry fee will be put to good use in your community, that’s for sure!

So come out on Saturday and celebrate the end of our demi-summer. And so what if it rains?  After a slice and a few beers, you’ll only remember the fun you had!

BONUS!  From now until Monday, September 15, for every pizza you purchase, Brixx will donate either $3 (from the 10-inch) or $1 (from the kids pizza) to Kids Path!  Just bring in this form (Brixx Buxx Flyer), fill it out, and you’ve helped us out even more!   

To register for the race, visit the registration page on the Run For Your Life website.  For more information about Kids Path, visit  


The freedom of a cowboy

Posted September 5, 2014 by hpccr
Categories: awareness, cancer, caregiving, hospice, spiritual care

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by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager

Bobby in cart_com

Bobby loves the freedom the golf cart allows

Two horses recently got married up in Harrisburg.  That sounds crazy, I know.  But it happened.  It was a simple, quick, completely spur-of-the-moment ceremony with little fanfare; just a few traditional and very reverent words spoken.  I’m betting the horses didn’t feel any different afterward.  But the man who married them got a tremendous kick out of the whole thing.  Because that’s the kind of unique and sweet sense of humor this multi-dimensional man possesses.

Bobby Blackwell and his wife Jolean live on 50 acres of beautiful property about 15 miles outside of Charlotte.  They have five horses, two donkeys, a slew of chickens, and a couple of dogs.  Bobby is a man of the land and a cowboy through and through (he’s lived on several ranches in Texas) so he’s not the type who can live within tight boundaries.  He is rugged yet utterly and completely charming.

Bobby and his wife, Jolean

Bobby and his wife, Jolean

A few years ago, Bobby found out he had cancer.  He tried not to let that hold him back.  Up until recently, he was able to roam his property at will.  He didn’t walk around as much, but he could get into his truck and get where he needed to go.  But last month, getting in and out of the truck became extremely difficult.  He thought his roaming days were over.

Fact is, Bobby really needs to be able to get around on his 50 acres.  For lots of reasons.  But primarily, he wants to visit his animals.  And he wants to preach.

The Double Horseshoe Cowboy Church

The Double Horseshoe Cowboy Church

On his property (quite a way from his house) stands a small, sturdy building — the aptly named Double Horseshoe Cowboy Church.  Bobby had the church built several years ago. As the pastor of this adorable church, he shows up every Tuesday night at 7pm (without fail), to stand at the pulpit, share the word of the Lord, and minister to the souls of his congregation, however many that may be on a given evening.

Throughout all of his treatments, he never missed a Tuesday night at the church.  Jolean would sit behind him in a chair, just to be there to catch him in case he fell.  He never has.  In fact, sometimes Jolean got a workout just following him up and down the aisle because he could get extremely energized while preaching.  But getting him to the church had become easier said than done.  Until last month.

Using the truck had simply become too hard, and Bobby and Jolean realized they needed another mode of transportation.  They started batting around the idea of a golf cart.  A request was made at a hospice team meeting and an HPCCR board member heard about the dilemma.  She started making phone calls and after a “I know someone who knows someone” situation, a family agreed to loan the Blackwells their golf cart so that Bobby could continue to get around.

Bobby, inside his church

Bobby, inside his church

I went out to visit Bobby and Jolean a couple of weeks ago.  Bobby was like a proud new papa.  He was delighted with how easy it is to get in and out of the golf cart.  He was downright giddy with how well the cart handled the hills on his property.  He drove me (as well as a photographer and an HPCCR social worker) from his house to his church, and up to the campground they’ve cleared out near the church.  We saw the barn, and the horses, and two adorable donkeys.  Throughout the trip, the cart managed the terrain like a dream, smooth and comfortable.  Bobby could not have been more thrilled.

The golf cart has given Bobby some of his freedom back.  “I’m a cowboy so I’m used to being outside.  I never thought I could get depressed, but sitting in the house too much was really hard.  Now I can see my horses or visit my campground.  It’s helped me so much.”

He’s also thrilled with the care he has received from Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region.  He’s not used to being the center of attention from an entire team of people whose job it is to keep him comfortable.  In his own words, “As a preacher, I’m the one who cares for others.  I guess it’s my turn to have that given to me.”  He’s in awe of his care team members, who visit him every week.  “They are just so concerned about me.  They have so much compassion.”

Bobby may be under hospice care, but he just can’t be cooped up.  It’s not in his cowboy nature.  He needs to be out and about with his devoted wife, preaching, carving (you should see what he can do with a piece of wood), assessing his property, playing the banjo (have you guessed he’s multi-talented??) and visiting his animals.

When we were riding in the cart back to the house, I saw the newlywed horses with my own eyes.  And then I saw the pair of donkeys.  I think they’re next.


Bobby Blackwell and HPCCR sincerely thank everyone who helped make the golf cart loan happen.  From Bobby’s care team to our HPCCR board member to the gracious family who owns the golf cart, we are honored and humbled by your compassion.  You know who you are!






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