As an emergency department nurse in Calgary, 26-year old Ashley Horton has witnessed hundreds of families coping with the death of loved ones. But a first-hand experience within her own family gave her a new perspective about how difficult those end-of-life situations – and the conversations around them – can be.

“My mother became ill quite quickly – and even though I had seen so many families go through this before, I never truly understood how devastating it could be.” she says. “We had to make a lot of decisions. Looking back, I now realize how important it is to plan ahead and be prepared for the future.”

Ms. Horton has turned that experience into a positive for others, providing support and compassion for families, and helping to ease them into these difficult, but important conversations.

“The best advice I can give is to be knowledgeable about the future,” she says. “Educate yourself about treatments, what could happen, and what would be important to you. And most importantly, tell people around you so that they can support you if something happens. You owe it to yourself and to them.”

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