‘I can’t get out of my chair,’ elderly man with cancer calls 911 because he has no food

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – An 81-year-old North Carolina man spent months in the hospital being treated and rehabilitated after a cancer diagnosis.

WTVD reports that when Clarence Blackmon, who weighed 115 pounds, finally returned home he was hungry and opened an empty refrigerator. So, he called 911.

“I can’t do anything,” he told 911 operator Marilyn Hinson. “I can’t go anywhere. I can’t get out of my…chair.”

Credit: WTVD

Hinson told Blackmon they would bring him some groceries.

“He was hungry. I’ve been hungry. A lot of people can’t say that, but I can, and I can’t stand for anyone to be hungry,” Hinson told WTVD.

Blackmon asked for cabbage, cans of beans and beets, popcorn, tomato juice and soft drinks.

Hinson went to the store herself and with the help of local police officers delivered them right to Blackmon’s door. She even made him some sandwiches.

“It was like a little miracle ringing in my ear,” Blackmon told WTVD. “I thought, ‘Jesus, you answered those prayers.'”

Fayetteville Police Department: (910) 433-1529

Related: Utah Meal on Wheels


  • sboyle

    Just within the last few weeks we had an elderly couple found to be dead over a month in their house. It took that long for a neighbor to call and ask for a well check…..we have become oblivious to those around us until we are hit over the head with a 2×4 and it is pointed out…..how very sad.

  • Jeanette Appice Zeitz

    Since when do they not know when taking a patient like this home what arrangements have been made. Why make him better if you send him home to starve or get hurt. Social services at the facility are sorely lacking in the services.

  • Lesliw

    Why isn’t he assigned a case worker to see to it he has help…if he can’t go get food who assists him with personal care..meds etc? He shouldn’t have been released without them knowing he needed assistance…ego took him home? There are a lot of missing pieces to this story….

  • Geri O'Keefe-Curtis

    Shame on Social Services at the hospital for sending him home without finding out that kind of information from him. Thank goodness for the kindness of the 911 operator and the local police for helping him. If I lived near him I would take care of that for him.

  • Jan Goldsworthy

    A gofundme is great but he still needs someone to get and prepare his food for him. I spend one day every couple of weeks cooking for a 94-year old vet, making homemade TV dinners he can freeze and microwave. Also get milk, cereal, etc. Maybe someone can do it for this man. You don’t need to take something every day.

  • Mary Lou Harvan

    What kind of social services did that hospital have? Set him up with Meals on wheels please. God bless him. Hospitals worry about profit more than anything now!

  • cindy

    may God bless this operator and all the people that come and helped ,, my hope is now someone can come and check on this gentleman to insure hes ok

  • kat

    Shameful that this happened. I understand that hospitals assume that he is an adult, and he can take care of himself, but not all elderly people are able to remember everything. Considering he was being treated for cancer, I can almost guarantee that his thought process is not as fast as it used to be. My aunt was suffering with cancer, and her treatment and meds made it very difficult for her to catch a thought, or to respond quickly. Thank God he was able to reach out to someone. If I lived near there, I would volunteer my time to go check on him, and make him meals.

  • diana tate

    The bigger question is how did he get home? Who took him and why didn’t that person check to see if his needs were met?

  • linda

    Please let me know if anyone else helped him..
    I live away but wanta make sure this sweet man has food .

  • Mrs. Garfield F. Eagleston III

    Quick fix, but now what does he do? If I didn’t have my sister and a good neighbor I would be shxt out of luck. Can not walk, no car if I could blah blah blah. Tell him about Meals on Wheels, it can be a life saver.

  • Linda/FL

    Total failure on the part of the doctor, the hospital and the social workers. They should have been aware of the condition he was going home to. In fact, both here in FL and in CT where I’ve lived, that’s one of the first things they ask you in the hospital – what situation are you going home to… I’m assuming this gentleman didn’t have family in the area.

    Poor guy – and major kudos to the 911 operator.

  • Mimi

    How sad that no one cared enough about him to make sure he had what he needed when he got home. Seriously? He had no friends, no family that cared? That’s awful.

  • kenneth

    I could not help from crying when I read this. I live in Cartersville, Ga, if none of his family or anyone else will not help him, call me @ 7703824334 and I will drive up there and buy him groceries. I’m glad to hear he has food for now.

  • sand

    Oh but we sure as heck have obama feeding the illegal aliens ….he feeds them and clothes them and educates them …all for the Democratic vote…that is sickening to me.

  • jaunice mccall

    Why didn’t the hospital investigate his release after care before sending him home someone needs to be held accountable I would hope that the place he left be put on blast…. shame on them this man health and well being was they responsibility. Thanks to the 911 operator and police dept.

  • Rachel

    Let me start by saying what a beautiful story this is on the parts of the 911 operator and the police who helped. And the kind sentiments of all those who commented are incredibly heartwarming. It is good to know that total strangers still care about one another this way.
    As a former geriatric social worker-turned registered nurse, though, I read this through slightly different eyes….yes, how indeed did this happen? Although it is possible that a series of screw-ups by discharge planning in the hospital led to this, it is equally likely that ALTHOUGH THIS STORY IS 100% ACCURATE, it has been somewhat dramatized for effect. Perhaps he isn’t ALWAYS completely helpless….but at that moment, after the flurry of activity of being discharged from the hospital, getting settled back at home, re-acclimating himself, etc–and then realizing he had no food!–he was EXHAUSTED! He could not get out of his chair! He’d been battling cancer for months, he’d been away from home, he was tired and overwhelmed and weak. Yes, in that moment, he was helpless….but if he’d been 100% physically helpless he would not have been sent home. (I’m not minimizing the situation, I’m just saying….). It’s likely he had been “given” homecare for some prescribed hours per day–or that the homecare nurse was scheduled to come later that day, or the next day, to assess how much help he would need. Unfortunately, that’s how this process works. (Believe me, I STILL have nightmares about patients I’ve sent home almost a decade ago, and what may have happened to them in the few hours between when they got home and when their homecare arrived). Another possibility–maybe not in his case, but it happens often–is that he sent away his homecare because he felt “I’m not sick anymore, I don’t need a nurse living with me”. Most home care is actually attendants in the home with nurses only visiting for specific procedures, but people who FINALLY get home after prolonged illness want their lives back and don’t want their privacy invaded. (And yes, I have nightmares about situations like this, too.)
    My point is, this is a sad, horrible story, but it’s entirely possible that no one person is to blame…or that no one is to blame. I like to think that most of us (true, not all, but most) in healthcare really DO care about what happens to our patients….I know if I’d EVER seen something like this had happened to one of mine, I’d be absolutely devastated.
    Just a different perspective to think about…..

  • gina

    no kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, friends? what medical facility releases an elderly patient home with no discharge plan? social work should have arranged meals on wheels, home nursing visits etc

  • Jenny Brant

    He needs a Go Fund Me account. Poor guy. So sad that he cannot get care but so many people are receiving assistance that are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves

  • jane

    Shame on all involved, the hospital,social workers,his family,veterans administration,neighbors etc…This man who served our country is a Veteran and should be treated with the Respect he has earned as a Veteran & human being….Our country should be ashamed of itself when our children,veterans and elderly are going hungry, society cares more about the kardashians , professional sports, celebrities etc and not enough about those who go without…My Father Bless him is 81 years old & a retired Marine, I would never ever see him without or lonely…. Shame Shame Shame on society it breaks my heart what we have become.

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