Walking through the halls of Regional Hospice and Palliative Care’s Center for Comfort Care and Healing on the way to visit Nancy Stevenson, I quickly got a sense of the incredible human being I was about to meet. Volunteers and staff had bright smiles across their faces when asked about Nancy. It was clear that her genuine warmth, positive outlook and grace-filled spirit touch the lives of everyone she encounters.
Creator and World Traveler
Nancy Stevenson is a creative woman with the heart of an artist and the soul of an adventurer. As an artist and illustrator, she has a passion for children’s literature and nonprofit educational organizations. She has worked for Sesame Street in various roles since 1978, as well as illustrating children’s books for Disney and The Magic School Bus among others. She has been painting and writing for most of her adult life, passions she continues to pursue. Even from her hospice room, Nancy has immersed herself with painting watercolors and mailing them as thank you notes to loved ones. An avid traveler, Nancy loves to seize the opportunity for adventure. She has a love of sailing and traveling. Some of her favorite memories include sailing off the coast of Belize, exploring Italy, touring Ireland, Turkey, Guyana, being captivated by the beauty of the South of France, and chartering a catamaran with 8-10 of her closest friends.
Beloved by Family and Friends
Nancy reminisces with joy and happiness about her many wonderful family memories. These include big family reunions in Florida she attended in the summers when Nancy and her brother-in-law turned the garage into a studio for puppet shows and arts and crafts for the whole family to enjoy. She loves her nephew, and her niece who lives locally and visits often. She lovingly displays in her room the beautiful pillows with painted artwork prepared by her niece’s children. Nancy lived in New York City since 1977 and speaks tenderly about her Astoria neighborhood, church and community of friends. Her face lights up when speaking of the numerous friends who continue to visit her from New York. From her landlord to her co-workers to her church family, Nancy has received an outpouring of visitors, cards and gifts. Each of these gestures of kindness are sincerely cherished and appreciated.
A Magnetic Personality
Nancy has had so many battles to fight over the years and has faced them with grace and fortitude. In addition to the friends and family she touches, she has chosen to share her cancer journey with the world through her blog, hopeandcourage.com. Many strangers discovered her blog who are suffering with a similar diagnosis to Nancy’s. She lovingly emails them words of encouragement and support. In addition, Nancy speaks of the new appreciation she has developed for older people as they struggle to live with the limitations that age has placed upon them. She sees her illness as an opportunity to show more compassion and kindness towards others. She has achieved a state of peace and grace that she firmly believes is a gift from God.
An Advocate of Hospice Care
Nancy’s first experience with hospice was over twenty years ago, when she lost her beloved dad who had received compassionate hospice care. With this positive experience in mind, Nancy decided to stop treatment and seek the help of hospice after her last scans came back with bleak results. Living in Queens without a primary caregiver, she tried for a while to “keep all the balls in the air” while staying home, managing rotating caregivers, obtaining groceries and dealing with the pain, which was difficult to control.
Grateful to Regional Hospice and Palliative Care
With the aid of her niece who lives in Connecticut, Nancy learned about Regional Hospice and Palliative Care’s Center for Comfort Care and Healing. When a room became available in the Center, she felt that it was “God’s providence.” She speaks with sincere gratitude for all of the help and kindness she has experienced at the Center. She has studied the history of the building and knows that it was built with love. After some very unpleasant stays in the hospital, Nancy relishes the way that you can feel the love emanating from every room and every person at Regional Hospice. “Every day I feel God just confirms that this is where I am supposed to be.” Her pain is under control now and she enjoys the beautiful view from her room, the spa treatments, the volunteers who visit often, the therapy dogs, and the excellent medical care. “Everyone is so sweet and nice and helpful and will do anything for you. I am just so grateful.” Nancy credits Regional Hospice with enabling her to feel safe and stress-free at a time in her life when she truly relishes the peace.
Just as blessed as Nancy feels to be part of the hospice community, we the hospice community feel equally as blessed to have the opportunity to experience the beauty and grace of Nancy Stevenson!
UPDATE: We are sad to report that Nancy lost her courageous battle with cancer. Our condolences go to her family and friends.