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A Mother’s Story of Finding Hope in the Face of Terminal Illness

San Diego resident shares hospice experience


Carmin Greaves was just fifty-eight years old when she received a diagnosis no woman wants to hear: stage four ovarian cancer.  That was two years ago. This week, as she prepares to celebrate Mother’s Day with her daughter and grandson, Greaves is filled with gratitude for the hospice team at The Elizabeth Hospice in Southern California that has helped support her physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Initially, the San Diego resident was devastated by her diagnosis and felt overwhelmed and afraid. She then began receiving palliative care – a specialized type of treatment which focuses on alleviating pain, suffering and the psychological burdens of serious illness.
Palliative care is available even while curative treatment continues.  It radically improved Greaves’ ability to cope, and continue living.  Eventually, she transitioned to hospice when more support was needed. 

“Spirituality has allowed me to be the strong, vibrant woman that I am today,” says Carmin. “I want everyone to receive unconditional love and acceptance.”  Chaplains at The Elizabeth Hospice provide spiritual support, regardless of whether the patient and family have religious beliefs or not. Spirituality more broadly defined is that which creates meaning for us, and hospice honors that personal meaning.

 “As a chaplain, my job is to help incorporate this into the hospice experience to further support patients and their loved ones throughout the end of life process,” says Felisa Meier, chaplain. “With Carmin, we have spent much time reflecting on so many significant realities and truths of life. She is truly a testament that a terminal diagnosis does not mean life and purpose end, but that it can be yet another opportunity to learn, grow and teach.”

This ‘continuum of care’ is what the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization believes every patient deserves when facing a serious illness.  NHPCO has featured Carmen’s story with a moving video in its national public awareness campaign “Moments of Life: Made Possible Hospice”.

Carmin embodies the spirit of this campaign, and what the hospice experience enables for millions of Americans. “I have been able to overcome hurdles with the help of the wonderful Elizabeth Hospice team that has helped me remain strong,” says Carmin. “No matter how difficult and challenging life is, we can find peace.”

Carlota Durazo, an Elizabeth Hospice counselor says, “Carmin lights up the room with her smile and graciousness. She welcomes you with open arms and this is how she lives her life on a daily basis.  She really knows how to live.”

To learn more about how the “Moments of Life: Made Possible” by Hospice campaign is dispelling the myths of hospice care, visit

About The Elizabeth Hospice
The Elizabeth Hospice ( is the oldest and largest nonprofit hospice provider of medical, emotional and spiritual support to the seriously ill and their families in San Diego County. Since 1978, The Elizabeth Hospice has touched the lives of more than 90,000 patients and families in the communities we serve, regardless of their ability to pay. Through its Center for Compassionate Care and the Jenna Druck Center, comprehensive counseling and grief support services are available for all ages to the community-at-large, regardless of the type of illness or death experienced. To learn more, call (800) 797-2050 or visit the websites at,, and

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