Rock ‘N Rodeo chips in fore TMC Hospice

This year two great events came together to support one great cause. The Desert Toyota of Tucson 21stAnnual Rock ‘N Rodeo event expanded festivities with the 1st Annual Swinging fore Hospice Golf Tournament.

The two events raised more than $70,000 to support a wide range of services and programs at TMC Hospice and TMC Children’s Hospice.

Taking fun to the next level

Rock ‘N Rodeo is known for ropin’ in the fun with southwestern dancing, raffles, casino games and a tasty dinner.

Desert Toyota of Tucson is a proud, long time sponsor of Rock ‘N Rodeo,” said Brent Berge, owner of Desert Toyota. “We have a lot of fun each year, but the real reward is knowing every dollar raised supports services and programs that enhance hospice care for patients and their families.”

After an evening of two-stepping, event-goers traded in their boots and Stetsons for clubs and cleats the next morning. With amazing raffle prizes and the chance to win a new car with a hole-in-one, the Swinging Fore Hospice Golf Tournament was a real hit!

How proceeds enhance hospice care

Funds support soothing complementary therapies for adults, and also fund the We Honor Veterans and Hospice Veterans Partnership programs – helping TMC Hospice better care for, reach out to and honor veterans needing end-of-life care.

Children with life-limiting or terminal conditions and their families have special needs, and the invaluable support from Rock ‘N Rodeo and Swinging Fore Hospice means TMC Children’s Hospice can offer specialized palliative care that provides joy and comfort.

“The Rock ‘N Rodeo and Swinging Fore Hospice support a very important community need,” said Kim Fore, director of TMC Hospice. “We’re grateful for the team at Desert Toyota of Tucson, as well as every sponsor and participant who helped make this year a great success.”

How you can be a part of the fun

Keep your spring calendars open for next year’s events. In the meantime, The TMC Foundation works with TMC Hospice and TMC Children’s Hospice throughout the year to identify needs and support programs that make a positive difference for patients. For more information, contact the TMC Foundation at (520) 324-3116 or visit

In new book, TMC Hospice physician explores the human journey of navigating life’s losses

For those who’ve had therapy to deal with loss, Dr. Larry Lincoln’s new book “Reclaiming Banished Voices: Stories on the Road to Compassion” will resonate about what it means to suffer loss and how to successfully navigate through it.

For those considering therapy or trying to resolve their own grief, Dr. Lincoln’s book offers insight into the power of coming to terms with our losses – even those we might not fully recall or realize their impact. Dr. Lincoln’s writing is accessible to the lay person, yet grounded in his decades of clinical experience as a physician as well as his time spent training and traveling with death and grief pioneer Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

Dr. Lincoln, the medical director of TMC Hospice for more than 25 years, also has had a successful clinical infectious disease practice. A graduate of Amherst College, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, he and his wife, Anne, offered their Growth and Transition Workshop program for 31 years, after initially training under Kübler-Ross. The couple has two children and three grandchildren.

All of these roles — physician, workshop leader, Kübler-Ross devotee, husband, father, grandfather — come into play in this book. Part memoir, part self-help, Reclaiming Banished Voices explores what happens when one is denied his “birthright,” as Dr. Lincoln explains, “to use the tools we are born with to process life’s inevitable losses.”

Unexpressed grief has a way of getting out. People who’ve experienced major losses especially as children, such as the death of a parent or living through abuse or neglect, are at higher risk for depression, addiction, failed relationships and other negative consequences from early pain – what many would see as manifestations of unresolved grief. But Dr. Lincoln shows that any loss, if not adequately grieved, can still impact a person long after the loss has faded.

In the book, Dr. Lincoln examines his own life, and how, although he found himself living his dream — a successful medical practice, married to the woman of his dreams and father to two beautiful children — he was facing burnout, while beginning to dread and resent his unpredictable workload. He would shut down to the people who loved him and waste precious emotional energy maintaining the mask of calm competency.

He shares his own story, in part, so people can trust him and the process he uses. “It’s not just an intellectual read, but shows how one processes grief,” he said. “I tried to speak to multiple levels, including our unconscious.”

Writing the book wasn’t easy. He had written about half and then tossed it out. “It was too academic. It was not me,” he said. He started over – a few times – before he finally found the voice he wanted. And it’s a very personal voice – one that doesn’t shy away from showing his own shortcomings and struggles. It took him about four years to write the book, he said, including an entire year when he had writer’s block and didn’t write a thing.

For each chapter, he’d have to go through five or six re-writes of the first five or six pages before being able to proceed. “Once I learned that that’s how it was going to be, I was OK with it,” he said, adding that he settled on a format where each chapter could tell its own story as well as add to the coherent message of compassion.

For his own story of transformation, his first breakthrough came in 1984 when he attended a five-day residential program with Kübler-Ross, the Swiss psychiatrist whose 1969 book “On Death and Dying” was foundational in creating the modern hospice movement. It was there that Dr. Lincoln discovered how a long-forgotten incident when he was 5 years old had instilled in him a drive to succeed to such an extent that it was consuming his life.

“I began to recognize how what seemed to be an unrelated and barely remembered childhood event was impacting my life as a physician, partner and father.”

Dr. Lincoln eventually went on to train and work with Kübler-Ross, traveling internationally and conducting “Life, Death, and Transition” workshops, where participants would externalize buried grief in an effort towards better self-awareness, forgiveness and healing.

Dr. Lincoln explains in the book how, as humans, we have the “the gift of grief” and how when that gift is taken away, it impacts our ability to confidently navigate the world:

When we grieve, all our emotions come into play. We shake our fist at the universe, rend our clothes in mourning, agonize over fears of future pain, and ultimately face the existential decision to live again. As our compassion for ourselves deepens, we praise our Maker for the exquisite bittersweet wonder that is life. And we dare to open our hearts once again, each time with more wisdom and abandon.

But as children, we give up our birthright rather than risk injury (physical or emotional) or exile. Survival trumps free expression. The price of unexpressed natural emotions is our reactivity and the accumulation of resentments, fear, envy and self-doubt.

Unable to express his fear and anger, a young Larry Lincoln resolved to be stronger, faster, better so that no neighborhood kid would ever hurt him again. Once Dr. Lincoln connected with younger versions of himself, he was better able to attend to his needs and become the man he wants to be.

Dr. Lincoln doesn’t just rely on his own story, though, to share the transformative power of grief work. He is able to draw on decades of experience from his medical practice, including his work with the dying, his work with Kübler-Ross, the workshops he and his wife ran, and the stories of his own family to show the human need to express grief and the gifts that result.

A daily, inner dialog with his younger selves is his way to better understand himself. “It’s a form of meditative inquiry, a form of mindfulness,” he said, adding that there are other ways to get to the same information. Meditation, writing and art are some techniques others use to tap into one’s subconscious needs and desires.

“I continue to learn that emotional and spiritual care is a lifelong commitment. If I don’t tend my garden, the weeds choke out the vegetables,” he said. When he ignores his emotional and spiritual needs, frustration, resentment, irritability and reactivity creep back in.

This grief work is not about assessing blame. He readily admits his parents might have done some things wrong. “But they fiercely loved me and were doing their best”, he said, adding that he can understand and forgive his parents, as well as have compassion – and ask forgiveness – for his own parental shortcomings. “I want people to have compassion for themselves, but also take responsibility for their actions.”

In his book that has been a lifetime in the making, Dr. Lincoln offers us a roadmap from the hard work of grief to a place of understanding and compassion.

“When we listen with our hearts, magic happens.”

Admissions nurse named ‘Heart of Hospice’

Karen Novak, R.N., sitting, with (l-r) interim director Kimberley Fore, manager Stephanie Carter and medical director Larry Lincoln

Karen Novak, R.N., with TMC Outpatient Hospice, was honored this morning at a quarterly recognition selected by her colleagues as the “Heart of Hospice.”

Novak, who has been with Tucson Medical Center for more than 20 years, is the TMC Hospice liasion for the hospital. As a TMC Hospice admissions nurse, she works closely with the Palliative Care Team and Case Management as well as with patients and families who are dealing with potential end-of-life issues.

“Karen helps to aid in transitioning patients smoothly between the hospital and Hospice,” according to her nomination. “Her bedside manner is impeccable. She has a way of speaking with patients and family members that allow them to feel that they are both being understood in what they want and cared for in a compassionate way that embodies the mission of Hospice.”

Novak learned her skills in a variety of settings, including in the Emergency Department when it included truma care, and Case Management. She works with patients of all ages, including pediatric cases.

The quarterly award comes with a recognition plaque on the unit, a pin and a dedicated parking space. The award allows colleagues to recognize their peers:

Everything he or she does is for our patients and families and personifies compassion, kindness, empathy, a great work ethic and knowledge. The Heart of Hospice is also someone who is calm under pressure, is respectful, is detail-oriented, is a critical thinker, and has great communication skills. This person is someone who is always there to help his or her peers and does so with grace and skill. Being able to nominate someone for this award is a gift because it means you have observed greatness, not just once, but every time you have interacted with this individual.

Has a hospice nurse made a difference to you or your family? Consider recognizing this extraordinary nurse with a DAISY Award nomination.

TMC will be featured in documentary about palliative care and end-of-life

maxresdefaultArizona Public Media, AZPM, is airing an original documentary that sheds light on a subject most people shy away from: end-of-life. Passing On encourages a thoughtful dialogue about end-of-life issues and the need to have critical conversations about one’s wishes for their final days.

Passing On premieres on Monday, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m. on PBS 6.

Death is as much a part of human existence as is life, yet it remains a mysterious and often taboo subject. Passing On explores death and dying through a series of compelling, personal and thought provoking stories that will engage viewers and provide valuable information about planning for end-of-life.

“As a filmmaker, it is a tremendous honor and huge responsibility telling someone else’s story,” said Tom Kleespie, AZPM Senior Producer, Special Projects. “Each story that we tell in Passing On contains a valuable lesson, a moral that I hope the audience will take away with them. The families featured in this documentary allowed us in during one of the most difficult times in their lives. I hope viewers will realize the importance of dealing with these issues if they ever find themselves in a similar situation.”

The film will share perspectives from physicians who work with the dying and families who were willing to share their stories about their end-of-life journey.

The crew also traveled to La Crosse, Wisconsin, to learn more about a town where more than 90 percent of residents have completed advanced directives. The nationwide average is just 30 percent. Why are this town’s residents so much more prepared for end-of-life issues than the vast majority of Americans? Kleespie interviewed several experts and locals to find out.

You’ll also hear from Dr. VJ Periyakoil of the Stanford University School of Medicine about how medical professionals must sensitively communicate important information to people across a wide array of cultures and native customs.

You can see the trailer here​.

More information can be found by clicking here.

Palliative Care: Options not absolutes

Generally speaking, we live in a society that is uncomfortable talking about suffering and death. The reality though, is that both are a part of life. It is important that medical and clinical staff, along with chronically ill patients and their families understand that it must be acknowledged on the way to an open dialogue about palliative care options.

The term “palliative care” is often misunderstood, and often confused with hospice care. However, palliative care services offer a wide array of options that do not center on death. While death might ultimately be a part of the conversation, the broader scope of palliative care is for anyone with a serious, complex or chronic illness.

The goal of palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering. Its purpose is to support the best possible quality of life for patients and their families, regardless of the stage of the disease or the need for other therapies. Additionally, it helps guide and assist the patient and family in making decisions that will help them achieve their goals—improving their quality of life and often extending it as well.

In a well-known study published in 1996, known as the SUPPORT study, it was reported that Americans often died in pain, and their wishes for how they’d like to live out the remainder of their lives were either unknown or ignored. It raised an important question that is the basis for palliative care: What are a patient’s desires and wishes?

“Quite often we get so hung up on what we can do for someone medically that we don’t ask who the people are and what they would really want. And that, I feel, is the more important question,” says Kathy Kennel, NP, a Palliative Care coordinator at Tucson Medical Center.

Kennel receives many letters from patients and their families who have benefitted from Palliative Care. One such letter reads, “As a daughter, we didn’t know which direction to go, and you helped clarify what would be important for our mom. Thank you for asking about who our mom is.”

The benefits of this approach extend well beyond the individual patient. In an excerpt from his recent article entitled Palliative Care: Improving Care for Chronic Illness, Dr. Scott Lake states:

“When asked, most Americans say they would prefer to die at home, yet the majority of us die in hospitals and other institutions, often in pain. It would seem logical that the more health care a patient gets, the better that patient’s care would be, but for those nearing the end of life, this is not always the case. In 2009, Medicare spent an estimated $143 billion caring for people in their last year (25% of all Medicare spending). It is estimated that 20-30% of this care had no meaningful impact on the outcome of the illness; to the contrary, such spending and extensive treatment can too easily decrease quality of life during this period, and thus, the quality of death.”


Although the practice of palliative care has really picked up momentum in the last 5-10 years, there are still a lot of myths and confusion surrounding it. At Tucson Medical Center, actively offering Palliative Care options and discussions to our patients and their families from the onset of symptoms from a serious, life-limiting disease, is in alignment with TMC’s mission, vision and values. As such, it is important that the community is able to truly understand what it is.


Seriously ill patients should know there is a medical specialty focused on meeting their unique needs. TMC’s palliative care nurse practitioner can work with a primary care physician to provide treatment of the pain, discomfort, and stress while the patient is receiving other treatments at all stages of an illness.

For anyone who wishes to learn more about palliative care programs and options, TMC will be hosting a panel discussion on Nov. 14 at the El Dorado Health Campus from 10 to 11:30 a.m.  Join Larry Lincoln, MD, Kathy Kennel, NP, and Mary Steele, RN, to learn what Palliative Care is all about, when to access this service, and the future of Palliative Care.

To sign up, contact Joanne at Health Living Connections at (520) 324-1960.

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