Founder of the Modern Hospice Movement

Dame Cicely Saunders

Dame Cicely Saunders transformed the way we care for one another during life’s most difficult times. Her life story unfolds like a fascinating novel.

As a young nurse by the bedside of a Polish refugee who was dying alone in war-torn London. Their brief, but profound relationship changed her life. She saw that while modern medicine could deliver many miracles, it failed miserably when cure was no longer possible. Because she had to find a way to relieve suffering, she became a doctor at forty after a mentor told her, “Go study medicine. It’s the doctors who desert the dying.”

She would not be one of them. She challenged the British medical establishment at a time when women in medicine were rare, and became a powerful voice for the powerless.

Dame Cicely SaundersIn 2003 her peers voted her one of the five greatest physicians of all time, alongside Hippocrates and anesthesia pioneer, Sir John Snow. One of the first to advocate holistic care — treatment of the whole person, including the family — she launched a world-wide revolution in medical practice that is still unfolding.

Tellens had unique access to Dr. Saunders, taping interviews at St. Christopher’s, the first modern hospice she founded in Southeast London, as she looked back over a long and productive career. When she received the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, Tellens created a video narrated by actress Liv Ullman and introduced by the Hon. Kofi Annan to an international audience.

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Tellens is seeking completion funds for a feature-length documentary on Dr. Saunders’ life and legacy.

To help support this film, please contact us.

Dame Cicely Saunders