Alicia Smith and Edison McCants were high school sweethearts. They stayed friends after high school and found their way back to each other in 2010. Alicia was aware that Edison had something called paraganglioma, which is a rare form of cancer that causes tumors around the head, neck and spine. Several surgeries had left Edison with chronic severe back pain.
“I taught a dance class and he started coming with me. It was a way to help distract him from the pain and he enjoyed learning new things,” Alicia, who is also an Aurora caregiver, explained.
Over time, Edison’s health deteriorated and he relied on palliative and hospice care from Aurora at Home. Alicia and other family members were trained by Aurora at Home caregivers to assist Edison with certain aspects of his care like treating wounds and administering medication. But over time, as he transitioned to hospice, his care plan went from treating the pain to simply providing comfort.
Lori Cook was Edison’s Aurora at Home nurse. “You just want them to be as comfortable as possible. That’s so hard, not just for him, but for his family, too,” Lori shared.
Edison passed away in 2012. Alicia has kept his legacy alive with the Aurora at Home Edison McCants Comfort Fund. Dollars are used to further train Aurora at Home caregivers on the best therapeutic methods for pain management. Alicia was able to attend one of the trainings and see firsthand how engaged and grateful the caregivers were.
“Lori and those nurses are the reason why we do this,” Alicia explained. “It is because of the way she infused herself into our lives at a time when I needed her most. I know Edison is super proud of the work we are doing in his name.”
In 2014, Alicia and Cynthia Wilson, founders of Milwaukee Steppers and Ballroomers United, teamed up to create the fundraising event “Stepping with the Stars” to support the Aurora at Home Edison McCants Comfort Fund. To date, they have raised nearly $150,000 in support of this effort!
“Alicia is one of my best friends, so Edison referred to me as ‘Wife 1.5’,” Cynthia shared. “I had wanted to do this event for many years. When Edison passed away it was only fitting we make it happen in his honor. We also celebrate the memory of my father, Horthy Viverette, Sr. who fought a tough battle against cancer as well.”
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