Most of the time, when we hear the word “hospice,” our minds do not allow us to think positively. We do not tend to use the terms “hospice” and “hope” in the same sentences. AseraCare Hospice is challenging the common, negative stereotype of hospice in several ways
The AseraCare team can be seen at community events wearing brightly colored shirts and even brighter smiles. They are willing to talk with anyone curious about what hospice truly is.
For Director Wendy Smith, hospice is a commitment to making every moment matter. Smith and her team work together to create unique, memorable moments for their patients and the patients’ families. They are intentional about getting to know their patients personally and creating special moments for them.
“All in” for Ken
Ken Higginbotham was diagnosed with glioblastoma grade four in 1998. He was a teacher at Jackson Middle School and a coach at Jackson High. Ken was a healthy man with a wife and two daughters under the age of 5.
His wife Shan recalls reeling when the doctor delivered the news that her husband, a former athletic standout and current coach had nine months to live.
Meanwhile, Ken looked at the doctor and told him that he wanted to know the record of how long anyone had survived with this aggressive cancer. When the doctor said he would find out, Higginbotham looked him in the eyes and stated, “I am going to beat it.” A typical response for a competitor, and Higginbotham has been beating the odds for more than two decades.
Avid Auburn fan
The Higginbothams are what Alabamians call “a house divided.” Ken is an avid Auburn fan, while his wife cheers for Bama. Ken’s love for all things Auburn was evident when the AseraCare team met him. He wears an Auburn shirt daily and his room at Jackson Health Care Facility is decorated in Auburn’s colors of orange and blue.
As they discussed what they could do to celebrate Ken, the answer obviously had to involve his favorite team. Social worker Dana Adams reached out to the athletic department at Auburn University. They responded quickly and wonderfully.
Head Coach Gus Malzahn penned a letter to Higginbotham that remained sealed until last Saturday. In addition, signed posters, a tee shirt, and other Auburn gear
Continued from front and decorations were sent. The AseraCare team worked with Shan to plan a perfect surprise.
War Eagle, y’all!
As they wheeled him into the dining room, clad in his AU attire, Higginbotham surveyed the room and saw his wife, his parents, his children and his friends gathered. Tears filled his eyes as he gazed at them. He smiled at a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Malzahn provided by the university. Many pictures were taken as the family celebrated Ken.
JHS principal and friend of the family, Ken Harbuck was present to share in the festivities and to read the sealed letter.
Dear Coach Higginbotham,
I understand you have a special event today. I just wanted to write and say thank you for being such a great Auburn fan. It is special people like you who make Auburn so great…
I also heard that you are a former high school coach. As a former high school coach myself, I know the commitment that goes into football at that level. Guys who coach high school football love the game and love their players. Thank you for giving your all for your team. I always encourage my players to use their influence in a positive way. It sounds like you are a special person who impacts the lives of those around you. I hope it’s a great day for you. War Eagle!
A great day indeed! War Eagle!
Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.