Learn more about our mission to provide support and resources for the family caregivers of palliative care patients.
This organization was founded in memory of Stewart B. Leavitt and to honor his commitment to the great passions in his life: family, art and writing. Through Stewart's unique ability to combine art and science throughout his long and distinguished career, the Foundation strives to continue his legacy of research and education. We aim to expand the public dialogue regarding the need for more support for caregivers with loved ones in palliative care, and the treatment of pain and the toll it takes, not only on the patient, but on the families who are often the primary caregivers.
Consider supporting our mission by making a donation today.
Our husband and father, Stewart B. Leavitt, Ph.D., medical artist, writer and researcher, was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer in May of 2013. In the subsequent months and years, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments halted the spread of and stabilized the cancer.
The lesion in his vertebrae, along with the medical treatments he received that controlled the cancer, left him with neuropathic pain that radiated from his spine and wrapped around his upper body. As the pain became harder to control, he sought the help of a palliative care physician. The pain management protocol utilized a wide variety of medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, providing relief in varying degrees. He tried a variety of complementary therapies, including several clinical massage modalities and acupuncture, to help relieve the pain.
Stewart was no stranger to pain. He had spent 20 years of his professional career researching and writing about pain and the medications used for treatment. However, with the cancer, he experienced first-hand the devastating effect pain has on the body, mind and spirit of those suffering in its grasp.
It was art that would provide him with relief, escape and joy. He was trained as a medical artist and when he went back to painting, after many years, he consciously moved away from the precision of his former work to a looser style. The artwork created by Stewart during his illness not only provided a creative outlet but was also medically beneficial to him. He was often less anxious when he painted or sketched and there was a noticeable reduction in his pain.
Throughout his illness Stewart received excellent medical care. The dedicated physicians and nurses who took this journey with us were caring, compassionate and, at times, as frustrated as we were with the obstacles placed in our path. They did everything they knew how to do to help us.
Stewart passed away February 14, 2016. He was 70 years old.
In the months before his death, Stewart and I, had discussed the need for more services and support, not only for the patients in palliative care, but for the caregivers as well.
The Foundation began to take shape on February 21, 2016. With friends and family around us, his memorial service seemed like the appropriate time to begin seriously thinking about what we could do to help others facing the journey we had just completed.
Over the following months, we developed the purpose, structure and goals for the Foundation with Stewart's art as the inspiration of our new endeavor.
The focus is on caregivers, palliative care and pain management. Through communication, education and inspiration the Foundation helps caregivers and families navigate through their loved ones' medical challenges.
- This website serves as a clearinghouse, with the needs of the caregivers at its core, providing information, guides, tips, techniques, personal experiences, resources and strategies to help caregivers care for themselves and their families.
- As part of its educational and fundraising efforts, Stewart's artwork is exhibited in gallery-style settings inviting the community to experience and enjoy his art; to learn about his illness and how palliative care and pain management allowed him to be able to create these splendid pieces. Giclee prints (museum quality reproductions) of Stewart's artwork are available for sale to fund our mission.
- Partnering with local palliative care providers and other non-profit organizations increases community awareness of existing services. Using the Foundation's gallery fundraising model helps to raise funds for the development and implementation of new support programs and services for caregivers and patients.
- First and foremost, provide support and information for the caregiver and advocate for their right to be recognized as a critical member of the support team and included in all medical decisions regarding their loved one.
- Educate the public on what palliative care is and the need to increase the availability of palliative and pain management services.
- Communicate to healthcare providers the importance of involving palliative care at the beginning of treatment planning and to understand the critical roles palliative care and pain management play in improved quality of life for patients, caregivers and their families.
We realize that not every family facing these challenges has a "Stewart." This Foundation hopes to be a surrogate Stewart for families: to provide as much useful information and support as is humanly possible to make the journey easier.
Diane, Rhiana and Morgan Leavitt
Frequently Asked Questions
Get answers to some of the frequently asked questions we get about caregivers and palliative care.