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Blue Chair Moments

Updated: Sep 26, 2018

Many of our Facebook followers know that we were the keynote speakers at last year’s Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) National Summit on Advanced Illness Care in Washington, DC. We have since joined C-TAC as its inaugural Caregiver Fellows to raise awareness of the challenges caregivers face, and to help provide resources and solutions.

We will be traveling to Denver in October to attend this year’s National Summit. With over 140 members, it will be the largest gathering of healthcare leaders and organizations dedicated to the ideal that everyone should have access to advanced-illness care that is consistent with their goals and values, and that honors their dignity.

A theme at the Summit will be “Blue Chair Moments” — Miss Norma’s story can be exemplified by the concept of the “Blue Chair.” Shirley Roberson, who lives with late-stage cancer, once bore the brunt of a young clinician’s heavy-handed speech about her diagnosis. Instead of getting angry – or shutting down – she simply instructed him to sit in a nearby blue chair and ask her what she wanted to discuss. For us, the Blue Chair serves as a reminder that the way forward is not marked by a one-size-fits all solution, but rather by an attitude of empathy and curiosity about others’ experiences.

What is it like to sit in the blue chair at the doctor’s office receiving news that will change your life? Or your family’s life? We had that moment when Norma was diagnosed with cancer, and as the doctor looked down on her she told him, “I’m ninety years old. I’m hitting the road.”

We have been asked to collect some first-hand “Blue Chair Moment” stories to share at the Summit. This is a chance to let our healthcare movers-and-shakers know what it is like to be on the other side of the conversation. If you would like to anonymously share your story, please click here.



My name is Jim. I started on the path of caregiver at age fourteen when my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1969. My family consisted of my mother and a younger brother. My father was told he had six months to live after surgery. I helped my mother with his care at home. He lasted 6 months and a day before he passed away. I became the “man of the house” and took care of things (yard work, etc) until my mother remarried. Fast forward to 2009. I was married and living in Alabama when my mother began having health problems. My stepfather had passed away leaving her at home alone. She was mentally alert but freq…

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