Patient Stories -- Care Dimensions


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Kaplan House Helps Young Woman Accomplish Her Goal

Imagine you’re 28: a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and New York University, PhD candidate at Boston College, avid rock climber and horseback rider, lover of language and the written word. And then you receive the news that the breast cancer you have battled for three years has returned and spread to your liver, bones, and ultimately to your brain.

This would crush most of us, but the indomitable Kiara Kharpertian of Newton didn’t skip a beat for the next three years. She remained steadfast and committed to her goals, continuing on with her research and PhD dissertation. She married her sweetheart, Kai, and enjoyed every second of life.

But then, earlier this year, as her disease and symptoms progressed and her medical needs became more than could be managed at home, Kiara turned to Care Dimensions and the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers. “Kiara needed hospital-level care, but she didn’t want to be in a hospital atmosphere,” said Zoe Kharpertian, Kiara’s mother.

For four months Kaplan House became her home. She set up her desk and computer so she could continue to write her book, invited friends over for study sessions in the library, and enjoyed the benefits of massage, Reiki, music and pet therapy visits. She was adamant that she was going to finish her book and appreciated the clinical team’s expertise in balancing relief from her pain and symptoms with keeping her mentally alert enough to do what she loved – thinking and writing about literature and ideas.

No matter what a patient’s age or diagnosis, hospice care is about making each day count and focusing on quality of life. Each patient’s hospice experience is unique and Care Dimensions’ care teams – which include a physician, nurse, social worker, chaplain, hospice aide and volunteer – work with patients and families to provide individualized physical, emotional and spiritual support to meet their specific needs. For Kiara, self-determination and control was essential, and in conversations with Care Dimensions’ Chaplain Pam Colleran she expressed her desire for a “Living Memorial Service.” She wanted to bring together the significant people in her life and participate in this important life-affirming activity. Pam and the other staff at Kaplan House made it happen. Surrounded by family, friends, professors and mentors on a sunny June day in the gazebo behind Kaplan House, Kiara laughed as they recounted fun-filled memories, stories of how they’d met and what kept them close.

A few weeks later, Kiara died, surrounded by her entire family. “It was an extremely precious and personal time, but one that was made peaceful and comfortable by the team who not only cared for her, but cared for her family too,” said her mother. “Kiara lived her final months on her terms; and she left an indelible mark on all who knew her.”

Please donate to our annual fund in honor of Kiara and to support patients and families facing one of the most challenging times in their life.

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While our website will give you a better understanding about hospice care and the services that Care Dimensions provides, no one can tell the true story quite like our patients, families and staff. We encourage you to take a moment and read their stories and watch our videos.

You’ll be forever changed as you learn about life’s difficult final journey and the amazing patients, caregivers and staff who’ve embarked on the experience together.

Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 95 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.