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Needham Nun Knows Value of Starting Hospice Early

"Hospice for me is a lifeline. It is the absence of fear in the face of death. Hospice is the support that I have always felt from my team," said Sr. Kathleen Crowley, 72, of Needham. In those three short sentences, Sr. Kathleen clearly captures the essence of what hospice care has meant to her. In the process, she is trying to educate others. "I hope everyone takes advantage of hospice sooner, rather than later, because it’s helped me so much and has also supported my family and fellow Sisters," she explains.

That eloquence comes naturally and was born from her many years as an educator and leader in college campus ministry. After transferring to parish work at St. Pius V Church in Lynn, Sr. Kathleen discovered her love of working with the elderly and came to understand the value of hospice. "Being with people when they faced difficult diagnoses and were dying changed my life," said Sr. Kathleen. "I really appreciated the role of hospice in people’s lives. It prepares people so well to die, but it’s about living and thinking about how I want my last years to be."

When she was diagnosed with liver cancer two years ago and was faced with the most difficult decision of her life about a complicated surgery and a hard recovery, she reflected on that thought. "When the surgeon said, ‘You will never be as healthy as you are today,’ it put it in perspective for me," she explained. "Did I want to live in a nursing home trying to recover, or did I want to focus on my quality of life? I knew in my heart what I was going to do, and then there was a great sense of peace that came over me," said Sr. Kathleen.

When her doctor said she might benefit from hospice care, she agreed immediately and called Care Dimensions. "It’s been the best decision," said Sr. Kathleen. "When we think of dying, we all get very afraid — it’s natural. It’s a great comfort to have the hospice team with you on your journey, so you’re not alone and you can have someone answer your questions," she said.

"One of the things I appreciate most is that my nurse, Molly Polansky, will be honest with me and tell me what’s happening and why, and then explain what they can do to help," she added. "If I know what’s going on, I can handle it. Molly not only alleviates my fear of what’s next, but the support from the whole hospice team has been invaluable."

In addition to her nurse, Sr. Kathleen receives regular visits from Social Worker Jessica Mosey and Chaplain Matia Angelou, a former colleague of Sr. Kathleen.

"I think my family and my Sisters were concerned when I chose not to have the surgery and some of them weren’t able to understand why I wanted to be on hospice so early," she said. "But the hospice team has answered their questions. They can see that I’m truly happier and I feel less fear about the future because I have the hospice team to support me."

The year that Sr. Kathleen has been with Care Dimensions has been a special one. She was able to celebrate her 50th anniversary of becoming a nun, attend a niece’s wedding, and gather with fellow Sisters from Boston and New York who have been meeting annually for 20 years. "There are so many things I otherwise would not have been able to attend. For me, those were very special moments I treasure."

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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 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.