Tuesday, May 17, 2011


A Google search of Harmon Killebrew produces many tributes to his baseball talents, in particular his ability to hit a ball a mile, which is an exaggeration, but less so in Killebrew’s case. His home runs were monstrous. As a kid, I was a fan, even when he went up against Sandy Koufax and my Dodgers.

But I will remember him for decisions made in his final week. Because faced with a terminal illness, esophageal cancer, and out of therapeutic options, the Hall of Famer, who died on Tuesday, made the hard but courageous choice to stop treatment, spend what time he had left with his family, and to shine a light on hospice care.

Only last Friday, Killebrew released this statement: “It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end. With the continued love and support of my wife, Nita, I have exhausted all options with respect to controlling this awful disease. My illness has progressed beyond my doctors’ expectation of cure. I have spent the past decade of my life promoting hospice care and educating people on its benefits. I am very comfortable taking this next step and experiencing the compassionate care that hospice provides. I am comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by my family and friends. I thank you for the outpouring of concern, prayers and encouragement that you have shown me. I look forward to spending my final days in comfort and peace with Nita by my side.”

That resulted in this TV interview by Fox 9 in Minneapolis with Don Grossbach, medical director at Alliance Hospice. The questions are smart, the replies enlightening, the result a fitting legacy. http://bitly.com/kC2LlT

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