Excitement Builds for Upcoming End of Life Symposium
Compassion & Choices is pleased to sponsor and participate in this esteemed event organized by world-renowned cancer center City of Hope.
by Sonja Aliesch
October 21, 2021
The foundation began forming when Compassion & Choices’ Medical Outreach team collaborated on the first End of Life Symposium in 2019 with City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive care center based in Duarte, California. The one-day event provided a unique educational opportunity for healthcare professionals to learn more about caring for patients whose treatment transitions from curative to palliative. This led to a highly regarded nine-webinar series that reached people nationwide through the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering informative installments on topics ranging from grief and bereavement to how life’s end is portrayed in literature and cinema. We are extremely proud to now be part of this year’s End of Life Symposium, a hybrid in-person and virtual two-and-a-half day event in December.
“I do a lot of conferences, and I’ve never seen anything like this offering,” said Compassion & Choices Medical Outreach Manager Robert Drake. “Its content is both broad and deep. Start to finish, we have some of the top thought leaders in the country as keynotes. It covers everything from prognosticating to cultural aspects to communication, hospice and palliative sedation. We have voices from the family, bereavement, COVID; a medical aid-in-dying panel with a pharmacist from Kaiser Permanente, Compassion & Choices storytellers. There’s something for a lot of people — not just clinicians but for the layperson.” Drake, an ordained interfaith chaplain, will be part of the discussion Religion and End-of-Life Practices with Reverend Alice Cabotaje, the director of spiritual care for Massachusetts General Hospital, and Zhiyun Cai, a Stanford hospice and palliative care chaplain and Buddhist.
Much credit goes to Dr. Chandana Banerjee, a member of both Compassion & Choices’ board of directors and Healthcare Advisory Council, whose work as a physician compelled her to inform others about the importance of end-of-life options and autonomy. This inspired her to develop the End of Life Symposium through City of Hope, where she serves as director of graduate medical education as well as assistant clinical professor in Supportive Medicine. “I always wanted to put together a conference that was focused specifically on the end of life — a conference that would not only attract clinicians but other people so that as a society we start changing the way we look at the end of life,” she explains. “Compassion & Choices’ collaboration with City of Hope on the End of Life Symposium has brought a level of excellence to the quality and education on end-of-life care that is unique and encompassing of all end-of-life issues.”