GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Watching someone you love face a life-limiting or life-ending illness is heart-wrenching, but there is a place in the Piedmont Triad where families can turn for help.
It’s called Authoracare Collective, and thanks in part to the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, it’s empowering families to approach end-of-life care with dignity on their own terms.
“You don’t think something like that’s going to happen to you.” Casey Crossan’s son Connor was only 9 years old when doctors diagnosed him with cancer in 2016. The family went to the Cleveland Clinic for treatment and participated in clinical trials. Then they received the news no family wanted to hear.
“I can’t tell you what it’s like to have nurses and doctors for two years holding your hands, you know basically holding on hope that it’s going to get fixed,” says Crossan. “And then they send you home to die.” But the Crossan family wasn’t alone when they returned to the Piedmont.
They turned to an organization called Authoracare Collective. It was born in 2019 when Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro merged with Hospice and Palliative Care of Alamance-Caswell. Mary Manley says the new organization chose the name Authoracare because it defined the agency’s mission. “Our promise to our patients is that they are the authors of their story….we provide hospice. In addition to that, we also provide palliative care which is catching patients farther upstream before they are at end of life, helping them to manage their symptoms, helping them to achieve quality of life.”
Manley says hospice and palliative care are frightening for many families and often misunderstood, but when treatments for a disease are no longer viable, there’s no hope for a cure, and families are facing their biggest challenge, the staff and volunteers at Authoracare step in to help guide the way step-by-step. “We are that option for patients who are deciding they don’t want to move forward with treatments anymore where there’s obviously no cure.”
A 100-thousand-dollar grant hosted by the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro helped Beacon Place at Authoracare Collective. That’s the only in-home hospice program in Greensboro. Authoracare also has one of the few children’s hospice programs in the U.S. called Kids Path. That’s where the Crossan family turned for help with one phone call. Casey Crossan says, “And she said, ‘I’ve got you, it’s fine,’ and two days later the whole team from Kids Path showed up at my house and I’ve considered them family ever since. You’re inviting people into your home, in your life, when you are at your worst and probably in the darkest place possible. For me as a parent, it is pretty much a worst nightmare.”
Crossan says her son didn’t want to die in a hospital. With help from Authoracare, he met the end of his life the way he wanted, on his own terms, with dignity, at the age of 11. A butterfly now marks Connor’s life on the playground at Kids Path. Crossan says staff and volunteers at Authoracare Collective walked with her every step of the way, helping her understand what would happen next before her son died, and providing grief counseling afterward. She says, “Until you’re in the position of needing them, you don’t realize what a tremendous resource it is. They have invested in this community, they have impacted this community, and once you or someone you know needs them, you’re just blown away by everything they have to offer.”
Crossan is now a volunteer and she’s on the Authoracare Collective Board of Trustees. She says walking other families through their darkest hours is one of the ways she keeps her son’s memory alive. Authoracare has locations in Guilford and Alamance Counties. If you would like more information, visit authoracare.org.