About Palliative Care
May 23, 2019 / Reid M. Jacobs, APHSW-C, MSW
Sitting in a waiting room. IV dripping and my abdomen is aching. Headed into radiation for the fifth time this week. My guts burn like they’re on fire. I know I shouldn’t complain. This radiation is going to get rid of the cancer. I won’t die from it… but it feels like I’m dying now. That’s the penance though. Suffer now so I don’t have to die from this thing growing inside me.
Actually, it doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, radiation, chemo, and other treatments come with great benefits and often painful side effects, but those side effects can be addressed. That’s where palliative care comes in. The palliative team works to manage symptoms and side effects so that life is more enjoyable and less punishing. Palliative care provides expert pain and symptom management, and unlike hospice, care can be provided during active treatment. A person doesn’t have to be terminally ill either. Anyone experiencing symptoms from serious illness or its treatment can access palliative care.
The palliative care team works to coordinate care with the doctors treating the illness. The palliative care nurse and physician can communicate with the treating physician, clinician to clinician, to make needs known and advise on ways to manage symptoms. The oncologist, for example, can focus their expertise on treating the cancer and the palliative team contributes their expertise of pain and symptom management. This collaboration ensures good quality of life in the midst of aggressive treatment. Faith and Hope’s palliative program also provides social workers and chaplains who can help with spiritual, emotional, and family issues, as well as help finding resources. The team approach allows us to support the patient and their family on every level: physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual.
Also, you don’t have to wait for the doctor to suggest palliative care. You can start the process by calling us directly. We’ll discuss your situation to understand your unique needs and discuss how we can help. If you feel like we’re a good fit, we will call your doctor to get services started. Or, if you prefer, you can take time to think about it. We’ll move as fast or slow as you want. Even if you decide not to start palliative services, we are happy to provide you with information so that you can make an informed decision.