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Hospice "Tree of Life" needs your help to shine

Lawton_The Hospice of Southwest Oklahoma's "Tree of Life" will be lit Monday night.  Since 1983, Hospice has been allowing the last days of terminally ill patients and their families to be as peaceful and pain-free as possible.  That care would not be possible without the help and generosity of the community. 

Hospice of Southwest Oklahoma is a not-for-profit organization, and it depends on fundraisers such as the "Tree of Life" to raise money for patient care.  Each lit bulb on the tree at BancFirst at 38th and Cache Road represents a donation to Hospice.  While all of the lights will be lit for a few hours on Monday, by 7 p.m., the only lights that will remain lit are the ones that have been sold.  Just over 400 lights have been lit thus far, and 1,250 wrap the tree - so, there's still a way to go before the tree is entirely lit. 

 A lot of special patients and their families in Southwest Oklahoma, like Vernon Cable, need help.  Vernon learned the Native American tradition of taking care of family elders at a very young age.  "The thing they tried to get across to the young people was to take care of the elders the best way you can," he said.  Charlen Tahdooahnippah and her family have been taking care of her mother Gloria ever since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  "We have five siblings - females - and we all take turns taking care of mom, every day, 12-hour shifts," she said.

Even with a large family, Charlen says that helping a terminally ill loved one without Hospice care would be a burden they would find difficult to manage.  "Right now, she's bed-ridden, so we would have to load her up in the car or the van, or we'd have to call somebody that had a big car to be able to take her to the doctor," she said.

Glenda Goseyun says that as her mother became ill, she had no choice but to shed the usual role of daughter for caregiver.  "It just seems like we're her mom now since she raised us when we were little," she said.  "She probably changed our diapers the way we're changing hers now."

Verna Cable says that her family has been able to care for her mother at home because of Hospice - something she says has allowed her family more time with her mom.  "When the doctor recommended that we be involved with Hospice, we were told that she would have about six months to live," she said.  "That has been three years, so we've been blessed to have her with us this many years."

The "Tree of Life" helps families like the Cables keep their terminally ill loved ones at home, and they say that because of that, Gloria can listen to the family sing and tell stories while being at home with all of her memories.

It isn't to late to make a donation.  It costs $10 per bulb, or $250 per strand, of lights.  Hospice of Southwest Oklahoma will be taking donations until December 31. 

Contact Hospice of Southwest Oklahoma at :

1930 Ferris, Suite 5, (580) 248-5885 or 1-800-897-4652 in Lawton

102 W. Broadway, (580) 477-2700, 1-866-477-1059 in Altus

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