When his mother’s younger sister was in the final stages of lung cancer in 1990, Joe Gordon saw an opportunity to help the family make one final trip together to their favorite spot in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
“One day a gleam came to my aunt’s eyes,” Gordon says. “So I proposed that we take a carriage ride through the Quarter as she had done in a past visit. For that day, she returned to her old self, being just as fun-spirited and talkative as she always had been — and just as important, her husband and daughter were able to see her again as she always had been, leaving them with fond memories that helped them deal with their subsequent grief.”
Gordon’s aunt died that night — but the good memories from that day didn’t. “From that experience, I focused even more on those needs that normal medical care does not address and would do what I could when the opportunity arose,” he says.
That was prior to Gordon’s awareness of palliative care. “Hospice had helped with my mother’s earlier death from cancer, so I was aware of their support, which helped but still came up short of what I saw as a real need that was not being met.”
When a good friend of Gordon’s, Charlie, developed cancer, Gordon saw that Charlie and his family fully utilized the services of the UAB Palliative Care Program. He adds, “I was privileged to be of help to the family and to be there on many occasions when Dr. Christine Ritchie and others visited so that I could see how they addressed Charlie’s needs as well as the needs of the family. Immediately I recognized this program as a way to meet the many important needs of the patient and the family at that very important time of life.”
Gordon decided to meet those needs in his own way. He set up a charitable remainder trust through his will that will provide support for the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care, focusing on those who are unable to afford the costs of such services.
“We are so fortunate to have individuals like Mr. Gordon in our community and on our community advisory board,” says Rodney Tucker, M.D., director of the Center for Palliative and Supportive Care. “His engagement and desire to learn more about palliative and supportive care help to further connect our clinical and education missions to the community. Planned gifts like his are a statement of support that is so very appreciated, and we hope it will help other grateful patients and families see that the importance of our work and gifts like this are transformational in our ability to sustain. Providing this type of care now and securing its place in the future during times of immense change is especially powerful. Our staff and our future patients and families are the true beneficiaries of this kind gift.”
“My grandfather had done quite well in his career and so had the resources to enable he and my grandmother to stay in their home of over 50 years and get all the support they needed,” Gordon says. “Both passed on quietly in their home in a very peaceful setting. I want to provide that type of support that my grandparents, my aunt, and my friend Charlie received for those who otherwise would be unable to access a program that could help ease their situation and make the final transition more meaningful to all in a way made uniquely possible by the UAB Palliative Care Program.”