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True stories from around the world

Changing expectations of dying: the best and worst stories
We are collecting stories from around the world to demonstrate that the EAPC Prague Charter is not some theoretical exercise about unknown people in faraway countries but that this is about our families and ourselves. The aim of the stories is to show why there is a need for a human right for good palliative care, either by describing a worst-case scenario that a patient or family experienced, or by describing a bad situation that was made better by palliative care.

Exploring current best-case stories
Please read the following narratives about patients and their families, where good palliative care made a positive impact on the experience of an incurable illness, death and dying.

Exploring current worst-case stories 
Read also true stories from all over the world where the lack of palliative care caused unnecessary suffering.


Samara, Russian Federation, 25 May 2010.
Elena is one of the patients in Samara Hospice, a four-bed hospice in Samara. Here she is on the photo with Dr Olga Osetrova, the Hospice's Head Doctor.
On a population of 1.1m, Samara has a total of 26 hospice beds and 50 places for home care. Samara has the highest cancer morbidity of the Russian Federation.
Hospice care is available for cancer patients only
(Photo: WHO – Willem Scholten)

If you are willing to write a story to 'make the case for palliative care' please click here to send it by email. Please don’t worry about the language because, if necessary, our editorial team will be happy to help with any minor revisions in order to make the text more accessible. Ideally, stories should be written in English but we will also be happy to receive stories in other languages.

Exploring current best-case stories

From an interview with a UK hospice manager: A good death - Published: 29-05-2013
Written By: Professor Elena Semino, Dr Koller and ‘Metaphor in End of Life Care’ project, Lancaster University
We had a young mum in her thirties with two small children, a 7 year old and a 10 year old. She had metastatic breast cancer and had been very optimistic that it had been not only treated but cured, and that she'd have a long life and that all of th...
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From an interview with a UK hospice manager: Respecting autonomy may mean refusal of palliative care - Published: 29-05-2013
Written By: Professor Elena Semino, Dr Koller and ‘Metaphor in End of Life Care’ project, Lancaster University
There's that phrase that people die as they've lived. And for some people their life is a struggle or a battle or a series of conflicts that never quite resolve, and … if their life's been like that, why would their death be any different? So they a...
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A story from Slovenia - Published: 30-04-2013
Written By: Maja Furlan, Slovenia
It was 15 December 2009 and I was not even 30 years old when I learned my mum had, as her oncologist said, at most three to seven days left to live. No, let me correct that. The oncologist said it had no sense for us to have that conversation becaus...
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A patient’s story: Lakshman - Published: 25-04-2013
Written By: Harmala Gupta, CanSupport, New Delhi, India
Lakshman (name changed), 38, was meticulous about his everyday routine and a real family man. Every morning he would go to the market near his home in New Delhi and then scurry back to get ready for the office and see the children off to school. His...
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Cosmin: aged 20 - Published: 26-03-2013
Written By: Hospices of Hope ‐ Hospice Casa Sperantei Romania
Cosmin was suffering from congenital heart disease and was in a serious condition when the Hospice took him under their care on 11 September 1998 for palliative home care (he was nearly six years old), then in 2002 for inpatient care. The hospital t...
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The blue taffeta dress - Published: 18-02-2013
Written By: Caroline Craig, Sweden
I would like to share with you why I became interested in palliative care. I had arrived back in Ireland to find that my mother had been admitted to a medical unit with respiratory problems. She suffered with dementia. My father was reluctant to put...
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The effect of hospice care for dying patients - Published: 12-02-2013
Written By: Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute & Hospital, Tianjin, China
Death is like a gate, and passing through this gate means the beginning of another period of travel for a human being and doesn’t necessarily mean he or she truly vanishes. Hospice care has been gradually recognized and understood by the public and ...
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Exploring current worst-case stories

Russian Tragedy - To the blessed memory of Admiral Vyacheslav Apanasenko - Published: 19-02-2014
Written By: Olga Usenko
In Moscow, on Friday, February 7, 2014, Admiral Vyacheslav Apanasenko shot himself with a pistol. The Admiral left a suicide note that clearly indicated his reasons, "I do not want to blame anyone, but the Ministry of Health and the Government. I am...
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The power of narrative – A story from Turkey - Published: 28-05-2013
Written By: Dr Serpil Ozsezgin, Izmir, Turkey
I am an anaesthesiologist working in intensive care and a pain practitioner. For the past decade, I have also worked as a volunteer physician with cancer patients who need palliative care at the end of their lives. My opinion is that narrative stori...
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A patient’s story: Sunita, 32 years old - Published: 25-04-2013
Written By: Harmala Gupta, CanSupport, New Delhi, India
Life had not been kind to Sunita (name changed). As a teenager, she had been married off to a man who divorced her soon after. Later, she remarried a man who already had children and who resented her. When it was discovered that Sunita had cervical ...
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Eva, 40 years old, 2002 - Published: 26-03-2013
Written By: Dr. Emília Vlčková, St. Lujza, mobile hospice, Handlová, Slovakia
“Go and take a look at her!” insisted the close family and friends of the suffering woman. So I rang the doorbell and the family opened the door. At that moment I became the witness of a tragic scene. Eva was pale, lying in her bed. She didn’t commu...
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Darinka, 62 years old, 2011 - Published: 26-03-2013
Written By: Dr Emília Vlčková, St Lujza mobile hospice, Handlová, Slovakia
One day, an unknown woman came to my clinic. She told me that an algesiologist (a pain specialist) had advised her to come to me. She wanted to ask me questions about her mother, Darinka, who was suffering from an advanced tumour of papilla vateri t...
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A story from Armenia - Published: 19-03-2013
Written By: Dr Avetis Babakhanyan, Hospital of Police of Armenia, Masis Medical Center, Armenia
Armenia lies at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe with a population of about three million. Palliative care is still under development here. In July 2011, a one‐year ‘Home Palliative Care’ pilot project started, supported by the Worl...
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Patient story: Berta, a 70-year-old lady, married, with two children. - Published: 01-02-2013
Written By: Irena Laska, Family Health Care Association, Korce, Albania
Ten years earlier Berta had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and underwent a surgical intervention followed by radiotherapy for six consecutive weeks. For the next 10 years Berta did not suffer any health problems and she completely forgot about h...
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Diana 48 years old, married. She had a son who had immigrated to the USA. Currently she lived with her husband. - Published: 18-01-2013
Written By: Irena Laska, Family Health Care Association, Korce, Albania
Diana suffered from an aggressive cancer of the tongue’s root. Even though the truth about her diagnoses and prognosis were kept hidden from her, she was very intelligent and she could understand that what she was suffering from was an incurable dis...
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Fear about opioid side effects prevent relief of dyspnea in Switzerland - Published: 25-11-2012
Written By: Esther Schmidlin, EAPC board member, nurse consultant and educator, Mobile Palliative Care Team, Plateforme Santé Haut‐Leman, Switzerland
Is ‘dying well’ just a matter of good fortune, depending on if you happen to be in the right place with the right people when death approaches? With anger and sadness I am pondering this question after having witnessed a man’s – unnecessary – suffer...
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