Hospice Nurse Turned Patient Leaves Lasting Legacy for the Next Generation of Nurses

FORT WORTH, TX, May 18, 2022 – As a nurse, Mary Elizabeth St. Cyr had spent most of her adult life caring for others. She ultimately found her calling as a hospice nurse and poured herself into walking alongside her patients and their families. She was known for her sacrificial approach to life, always putting the care of others before herself. So when Mary Elizabeth kept quiet about her cervical cancer diagnosis in 2019, Nancy Kupper, her friend and former nursing professor, was not entirely surprised.

But, when Mary Elizabeth’s cancer progressed to the point that curative treatment was no longer an option, she reached out to Nancy for help. The two had weathered a lot over their 35-year friendship, including the loss of Mary Elizabeth’s beloved husband, George. Once she realized what her friend had been facing on her own, Nancy quickly jumped into action. The first order of business was to discuss advance care planning with Mary Elizabeth. As the executor of Mary Elizabeth’s estate, Nancy wanted to understand her friend’s wishes. Next, she realized it was no longer possible for Mary Elizabeth to remain at home caring for herself, much less her animals, Zack, Eve, and Jimmie, who she often referred to as her children. Nancy reached out to Community Healthcare of Texas, who helped find a home for Mary Elizabeth’s pets and moved her into their Hospice House in downtown Fort Worth where she immediately found relief from the constant pain she’d been in for months. And it was there, during Mary Elizabeth’s final days, that she received the same compassionate and tender care she had given to so many throughout her life.

Mary Elizabeth had always placed a high value on education and consistently strived to be the best in her field. As a licensed registered nurse with hospice experience, she knew she was more than qualified to care for patients at end-of-life. But that didn’t stop her from becoming a certified hospice and palliative nurse (CHPN). Through the rigorous certification process, Mary Elizabeth demonstrated her commitment and expertise in caring for the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of her patients and their families. It was one of her proudest professional accomplishments. So, when the time came for Nancy to settle Mary Elizabeth’s estate, she knew exactly how to honor her friend’s life. She reached out to Community Healthcare of Texas and offered to provide the seed money to start a program that would cover the expenses of any of their nurses who wanted to follow in Mary Elizabeth’s footsteps and become a CHPN.

“For more than 25 years, we’ve been the experts in hospice care throughout North Central Texas. This generous donation allows us to continue in that tradition,” said Kristy Johnke, Community Healthcare of Texas Chief Operating Officer. “We are committed to our nursing staff and their growth in the field of hospice and palliative nursing. And through this certification program, our community is being provided with the highest-skilled, quality care in the hospice industry.”

Since the program was rolled out at Community Healthcare of Texas, 4 RNs and 2 LVNs have completed their certification through The Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center. An additional 37 nurses are currently studying for the exam, with ten more starting the program in the coming months.

Johnke explained that the overwhelming response so inspired the leadership team at Community Healthcare of Texas that they plan to continue the program and cover all costs for any of their RNs or LVNs to receive their hospice and palliative care certification. Ensuring that even after the initial seed money is gone, Mary Elizabeth’s life will continue to impact patients, families, and nurses for generations to come

About Community Healthcare of Texas

As the largest not-for-profit hospice and palliative care provider in Texas, Community Healthcare of Texas has provided end-of-life care services for adult and pediatric patients since 1996.  With five office locations and three inpatient hospice houses, Community Healthcare of Texas serves 25 Dallas, Fort Worth, and Waco counties.

For more information or to learn more about Community Healthcare of Texas, please visit or contact Deidrea Laux at or call (817)929-9135.



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