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Families of Karmanos patients receive comfortable sleeper chairs, in memory of woman with cancer

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center has taken delivery of seven new sleeper chairs, in memory of a young woman who showed great care and compassion for those who took care of her while she battled cancer.

The new sleeper chairs are located on Karmanos’ inpatient floors 5 Webber North (WN) and 8WN. Families and friends who wish to stay overnight by the side of their loved one can use the chairs, which convert into beds. They were purchased through funds raised by the family of Janet Rose O’Connor, who lost her brave battle with colon cancer on Dec. 8, 2011, at the age of 29.

“During her seven-month battle with metastatic colon cancer, Janet spent a lot of time in and out of inpatient beds downtown,” said her younger brother, Daniel. “Despite battling unthinkable levels of pain from her cancer, Janet -- with her unbelievable capacity to put the needs of others before herself -- was very concerned about the comfort of her caretakers.  

“She would often tell us of future plans to help upgrade the sleeper chair situation. We didn't realize it at the time, but she had told us precisely what she wanted her memorial donations to be used for.  So the sleeper chair donation was her idea -- and to us they represent a celebration of her selfless kindness and generous spirit, which continue to inspire us every day.”

The chairs work like a fold-out bed, providing visitors the ability to take the cushion off and pull up and out to convert the chair into a sleeper sofa.

The O’Connor family and friends of Janet raised approximately $14,000 in her memory, with about $4,000 generated just through Facebook, to provide funding for the chairs, which were delivered to the Center only a few weeks ago.

Hadi Albarchini, clinical manager of Patient Services on 5WN, took care of Janet while she was in Karmanos and quickly became one of her favorite caregivers. He says the O’Connor family has been very generous in providing the gifts for other families who want to stay with their loved ones.  

”The chairs are beautiful to look at and they will provide comfort for our patient families,” he said. “I have taken care of Janet as a staff nurse and I have not seen a family that was more caring.”

Daniel said that his sister never felt like just a number at Karmanos. Staff cared for her as a person, not just as someone with a disease.

“We had Karmanos heroes at every level of the organization,” he said. “It wasn’t just kindness and professionalism. Karmanos also gave us the confidence that comes from being at a world-class facility.”

© 2014 Karmanos Cancer Institute Pencil
The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center is accredited by The Joint Commission.
If members of the public have any quality-of-care or safety concerns, they may notify The Joint Commission at 630-792-5800.