Monday, March 31, 2014

Windham man organizes end of life symposium - By Michelle Libby

Alex Doering, a 2010 Windham High graduate, has planned a symposium in Brunswick called “Rethinking End-of-Life Care: A Weekend Symposium” after he became interested in Hospice and medicine that helps people at the end of their lives. The 21-year-old Bowdoin senior has organized the program which will take place this weekend, March 28 and 29. 
“America has a big taboo on death. The majority of people have no concept of this because no one talks about it. We’re putting the info out there. People will say, ‘I didn’t know we could talk about this’,” said Doering. “No one has ever done something like this at school before.” 

He hopes to do oncology research in a laboratory in the Boston area. Doering’s mentor, Suzana Makowski, the co-chief of the Palliaive Medicine Division at UMass Memorial Hospital, helped with the idea of the symposium. With Makowski and the help of Margaret Zillioux, who works as a Hospice volunteer services coordinator at CHANS Hospice, Doering gathered speakers who could present on different end-of-life issues with a liberal arts perspective. 

Doering has been working with Hospice since his second semester his junior year. He also created a Hospice volunteer club on campus for others who were interested in volunteering and the Hospice training which is 30 hours long. 

Doering is interested in working in the field of oncology and palliative medicine, which is pain-treatment medicine. He would eventually like to be a Hospice medical director. In middle school, Doering knew he wanted to do something with diseases, but after taking Mr. Hanaburgh’s biology class at WHS, he knew from a video on angiogenesis (cancer) that he wanted to work in the cancer field.  

The keynote speaker this weekend will be Megan Cole, who is an actress and uses her art to explain about “ancient views of death and dying and how modern healthcare reform can improve palliative medicine in the United States.” 

The symposium begins at 2 p.m. on Friday in the Bowdoin Visual Arts Center and begins on Saturday at noon in the same building in the Beam classroom. 

“I encourage people to step a little outside their comfort zone and come,” Doering said.
For more information on the symposium visit Rethinking End-of-Life Care: A Weekend Symposium on Facebook.

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