Ask most people what they know about Palliative Care and they will inevitably reply that it is intended for those who are dying. Undeniably, Palliative Care is available to support families at this sad time, however their services are equally intended to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support to the patient and their families as they journey through terminal illness.
It is important to bear in mind, that despite a terminal diagnosis, there is still life, and survival may range from months to several years. Quality of life, for the duration of terminal illness is paramount. Palliative Care teams and the services they provide are there to help you care for your terminally ill loved one and to provide for them, the best quality of life attainable.
It is unfortunate that due to a misconception that Palliative Care is intended only for the very end of life, many do not embrace their services until the final stages of terminal disease and as a result, quality of life which could have been attained for the entirety of the illness is never realized.
Chronic untreated pain is debilitating, it dramatically affects a patient’s ability to participate in daily routines and in some cases takes away their will to live. Tragically, many people are suffering chronic pain unnecessarily. Pain management specialists attached to Palliative Care teams have vast knowledge regarding cancer pain and of medications available to control it. Once pain is brought under control, quality of life improves dramatically.
Caring for a terminally ill loved one is a catastrophic experience; Palliative Care members understand this and there are counsellors available to help you cope with your anticipatory grief. Likewise, Chaplains are there to support you with prayer.
I cannot praise highly enough the services of Palliative Care, the team, who worked with me during my husband’s terminal illness, have my eternal gratitude. Through their dedication and the pain management specialist’s knowledge, my husband’s pain was controlled and the quality of his life improved dramatically. The silver chain nurses attached to the team visited us regularly and I looked forward to speaking with them and voicing any concerns I had in regard to my husband’s care. They never intruded on our privacy but were always just a phone call away if I needed them.
I urge you to embrace palliative care soon after diagnosis so that your terminally ill loved one and you may reap the benefits afforded by this wonderful group of caring individuals.
Lorraine Kember is the author of “Lean on Me” Cancer through a Carer’s Eyes. Lorraine’s book is written from her experience of caring for her dying husband in the hope of helping others. It includes insight and discussion on: Anticipatory Grief, Understanding and identifying pain, Pain Management and Symptom Control, Chemotherapy, Palliative Care, Quality of Life and Dying at home – Plus excerpts and poems from her personal diary. Highly recommended by the Cancer Council. Lean on Me is not available in Book Stores – For detailed information, Doctor’s recommendations and on line ordering facility, visit www.cancerthroughacarerseyes.jkwh.com