Mother and BrideIn our society, Valentine’s Day is meant to be a day to appreciate those we love and care for. Whether it is a family member, close friend or significant other, February 14, 2015 gives us a reason to acknowledge our relationships. This year we encourage your reflect on the important relationships in your life by reading a story that shows how love can prevail even during the most difficult of times.

The worst news a daughter could hear.

My name is Lauren Nelli, and on November 18, 2014, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer which had metastasized in her brain. My mother, Suzanne Nelli is a pillar of her community and works at

Leptondale Elementary School as an office clerk. She has worked in the Wallkill Central School District for 22 years in the various schools where she is loved, admired, and respected.

Joy During Difficult Times.

While trying to comprehend all of this news, I texted my boyfriend of four years, Joshua, and expressed my concern that my mom would likely never witness our marriage. He responded that everything happens for a reason and not to worry. My family and I truly believe in that

saying. It’s what gets us through each and every day.

On Thanksgiving Day, Joshua got down on one knee, proposed, and of course I said yes! When I told my mom, who was in a hospital at the time; she said it was the best Thanksgiving she ever had.

Battling Cancer.

During the following few weeks, my mother endured multiple rounds of radiation therapy -the 10 brain radiation treatments and 15 lung radiation treatments.

She was able to remain at home due to the support from family and friends who got her to and from her appointments. She lost her hair, but took on this challenge in stride by buying scarves and hats to compliment her personal style and attitude.

Making Tough Decisions.

My sister, my brothers, and I had to face the difficult decision whether to proceed with chemotherapy or to discontinue treatment. At the time, mom was not well mentally or physically.

My brothers, sisters and I contemplated for days and prayed for guidance. We discussed my mother’s struggles and our reservations with uncles, aunts and other family members in hopes of finding the “best” solution.

After numerous discussions, researching our options, consultations with doctors, and a lot of prayer, we decided that the quality of her life was much more valuable to her and to us. We decided to take her to the Kaplan Hospice Home on December 23, 2014.

Click here for online resources for researching health care options.

Our Ceremony, our moment.

With the approval of the Kaplan hospice staff, Joshua (my fiancé) and I decided to have a small wedding ceremony at Kaplan Hospice Home on January 10th, with close family and friends.  It was such a beautiful ceremony and a meaningful day that was able to be shared

with my mom, family, and friends.  Chaplain Gary was gracious enough to officiate the ceremony and did a beautiful job. The ceremony was held in the meditation room that had the beauty of the sun spilling in as my now husband and I exchanged our vows with my mom, his parents and close family and friends witnessing. If it had not been for my mother’s amazing hospice team, we would not have been able to experience this precious moment together.

A higher quality of life.

My mom has been at Kaplan now for six weeks and

she has a fabulous, outgoing personal chef, wonderful nurses whom she calls her “guardian angels”, a great director, doctor, social worker, compassionate clergy members and overall wonderful staff and volunteers. We believe that the Kaplan Family Hospice Residence was and is the best decision for my mom.

A message from the family.

We believe that many people do not choose this choice

for their family and loved ones until it is too late in their life, due to the fact that  there has always been a negative connotation regarding hospice. However we have witnessed firsthand the higher quality of life and support that our mother has received from her hospice team. My family and I believe that many people would be blessed to have such compassionate attention while managing a terminal illness. We are very grateful for the support that is provided to her and us by Hospice of Orange and Sullivan Counties, Inc. in this very difficult time.

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Resources to share with others.

Every day families are confronted by the same issues that the Nelli family encountered. The best way to make a decision about hospice care, or to help a loved one or friend make a decision, is to learn. By presenting accurate and reliable information , we can all make an impact. If you are facing a tough decision, or would like to help someone else weigh their healthcare options – visit or share our online What are my Options? and Choosing a Hospice resources.

*This story is part of the NHPCO National Campaign “Moments of Life made possible by hospice”
http://moments.nhpco.org/news-blogs/valentine%E2%80%99s-day-2015-%E2%80%93-love-during-tough-times