Martha Keochareon became a nurse in 1992. She enjoyed caring for patients, and she enjoyed teaching student nurses, which was unusual among her coworkers. When Keochareon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006, she was given only a year to live. She made it to 2012, and despite her weakness, the last part of her life was dedicated to teaching nurses. Keochareon called Holyoke Community College, where she learned nursing, and offered herself as a case study for students.
Keochareon (pronounced CATCH-uron) believed she could help nursing students learn about hospice care, which helps terminally ill people die at home. She told the New York Times she also felt it would be a chance to find out "what a tumour feels like" - and what it's like to face a deadly illness - from the patient's perspective.
The school got in touch with Keochareon, and a few weeks later, two students arrived at her home. When Cindy Santiago, 26, and Michelle Elliot, 52, came into her room, Keochareon told them "sit on my bed and talk to me."