Woman raises thousands for hospice nurses

Paying it forward to nurses who cared for her mom

By Kirstin O’Connor - Reporter/Anchor

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - A young woman who watched her mother's final moments raised thousands of dollars for the hospice nurses who helped her family say goodbye.

"That's her when she was healthy, she used to be a nurse," said Carissa Hickok, as she held a portrait of her mother, Judith.

Several photographs were scattered over a table inside the chapel at Hospice of the Comforter, where Hickok remembered signing a prayer book with her brother.

"There's a lot of emotions when you're in the hospital for two months, not getting sleep and just watching someone you love just, just really suffer," Hickok said.

Judith Hickok developed diabetes that unexpectedly led to blindness in 2014.

"She went from having perfect vision, to she woke up one day and she was in complete darkness," Hickok said.

Her mother's health problems persisted, leading to multiple strokes, a heart attack and kidney failure. In July 2017, Judith was paralyzed and unable to speak to her family.

"Her blood sugar levels would go up and down out of control and they, there was no explanation for it, they couldn't really understand why that was happening," Hickok said. "I would ask her every day in the nursing facility if she, if she wanted hospice care and she would nod her head, yes."

The family decided to transfer Judith to Hospice of the Comforter, where nurses like Katy Moro serve about 3,000 patients a year.

"It's been proven time and time again that patients can hear and process and understand what's being said until they take their last breath," Moro said.

With that in mind, Hickok posted a photo of her baby nephew to Facebook with a message, asking in lieu of flowers for people to donate to the hospice nurses so she could honor her mother.

"I noticed donations coming in from Germany, and I don't know anyone in Germany," Hickok said.

More than $2,000 dollars in donations helped provide travel kits for families, like Hickok's, who spend months in the hospital or hospice with family members.

Hickok said before her mother died, she told her about the money people had donated in her name. 

"She looked up at the ceiling and she smiled and she took her last breath right after that," Hickok said. "If it wasn't for Hospice of the Comforter, we wouldn't have had that moment."
 

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