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Celebrating Special Moments at Kaplan House

At 52, Elaine Saad was just starting to get comfortable with her "empty nest" after helping her last child Jessica, 25, move into her own apartment. But, she was also having increasing discomfort and stomach pain from what she assumed was a flare up of acid reflux. Tests eventually revealed a cancerous mass on her liver and nodules in her lungs.

For nearly a year, the Wilmington resident and 25-year employee of Winchester Hospital was surrounded by family, friends and colleagues as she was treated at the hospital’s Center for Cancer Care. But the cancer continued to grow and the side effects increased. When a blood clot sent her to the hospital, Elaine met with Linda Mario, an oncology patient navigator who thought she would benefit from a palliative care consultation from Care Dimensions to help alleviate her symptoms.

The next day, Care Dimensions’ Palliative Care Medical Director Robert Warren, M.D., recommended she be admitted to the Kaplan Family Hospice House for closer management of her shortness of breath, pain and titration of medications. "Initially, hearing the word ‘hospice’ was a little scary, because I had always associated it with the very end, but Dr. Warren assured us that the goal was to get her breathing and symptoms under control to make her more comfortable, and hopefully have her come back home," said Jessica.

After two weeks at Kaplan House, Elaine felt remarkably better and was discharged home with hospice care and under the watchful eye of Jessica. "For nearly three months, she was better than she had been before she was diagnosed. She was laughing, breathing easily, even walking down the street, going shopping and painting. Looking back, that extra time was truly a gift we all cherish," said Jessica.

But soon her symptoms worsened and she was readmitted to Kaplan House. "I knew Kaplan House was the best place for her, but she was adamant that she wanted to go back home," explained Jessica. After four days, she was stable enough to return home. Two days later, however, Elaine fell out of bed and broke her nose and was rushed to the hospital, and then returned to Kaplan House.

"It was a relief when she went back to Kaplan. At home, I was always thinking about her next medication, her meals and what she was doing. But at Kaplan, I could step back and let the nurses care for her, while I could just focus on being with her," said Jessica. "She loved it when I opened the patio doors and wheeled her bed outside so she could look at the trees and the birds. We even set up her easel, so she could paint a little."

For weeks, Jessica never left her mother’s side, and they had a constant stream of family and friends visit. "My Mom was desperate to be able to attend my brother John’s wedding in August. But, she was getting so weak that we decided to quickly plan a wedding blessing at the Kaplan House so Mom could be there and celebrate with them," said Jessica. Within six hours, Kaplan House staff and Linda Mario transformed Elaine’s room and patio into a festive outdoor wedding. "She was so happy that day."

"It meant so much for our whole family to share that important moment together and to have pictures of her with us. It’s a day we’ll never forget," said Jessica. Elaine died peacefully at the Kaplan House two weeks later surrounded by her family.

During Elaine Saad’s stay at Kaplan House, the vibrant fish tank in the living room outside her room became a focal point for the family offering a needed diversion and stress relief. Since her death, Elaine’s family has rallied to raise funds to sponsor a fish tank in her name at the new hospice facility in Lincoln/Waltham when it is constructed.

To contribute to the fund, you may donate online .

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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.