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When serious illness takes over a life, LifeCourse offers hope

  • In the two years since Michael Bischoff was diagnosed with brain cancer, there have been times of overwhelming worry and stress. One he recalls vividly is when he was told that the tumor had returned after his initial phase of treatment.

    While he had every confidence in his medical team, Bischoff couldn’t help feeling that something was missing in his care. “Serious illness affects how you think about your life, your purpose and your relationships. I didn’t have a name for what I was looking for, but I knew I needed to find some way of integrating what was most important to me to my medical treatment,” said Bischoff.

    Since then, he’s been introduced to LifeCourse, an innovative approach to late life care. It has made a difference in how he lives day to day, and how he thinks about his medical care going forward.

    LifeCourse helps individuals and families who face the challenges that accompany serious illnesses such as cancer, heart failure and dementia. Trained professionals called care guides visit patients every month. They help patients identify what matters most to them, and assist in connecting patients with medical and nonmedical resources.

    Another challenging transition for Bischoff was when the clinical trial he was enrolled in ended. That meant he would no longer be in active treatment. “I did not have the confidence that I would be fine, and I wanted to do things that would support my health as much as possible,” said Bischoff. Talking with his care guide helped him sort through his uneasiness and make a plan. He made it a priority to spend time along the Mississippi River every day. “There is research showing that spending time in nature is good for overall health, and against the vacuum of no longer receiving medical treatment, it gave me a sense of doing something positive,” he said.  

    Meeting regularly with the LifeCourse care guide has helped Bischoff and his wife feel less overwhelmed and isolated in the midst of a serious illness. “It’s helped us clarify our priorities, and it makes me feel confident that our priorities will be considered and integrated into our decisions.

    “My wish is that every person with a serious illness could have a similar opportunity to bridge what’s important to them with their medical care.”

  • Michael Bischoff and family

    The Bischoff family, left to right: Michael, Grace, Isaiah and Jenny, along with Bella in Grace’s arms.    

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