The idea of hope when curing cancer is no longer the goal is difficult. We all hope for a cure, we long for the best possible outcome. However, some people find themselves facing the reality that a cure is not on option for them. The focus shifts to treating symptoms and keeping the caner under control.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an incurable cancer, you may be struggling with decisions. You may have options to try new treatments if the first one is no longer working. Or, you may be considering not having any further treatments and improving the quality of your life without side effects from treatment.
You may be wrestling with guilty feelings for not trying any more treatment. It may appear to toehrs that you're giving up. However, we should look at these decisions as individual choices. This is where hope needs to be reframed.
The choice to stop treatment and focus on living your life in the best way possible with the time you have remaining may be the new goal for your care.
If you or a loved one is in this situation, I hope you have heard of palliative care and hospice care. Both are meant to provide the patient and family with a focus on quality of life.
Palliative are is medical care focused on relieving pain and other symptoms of the cancer itself or from treatment side effects. The goal is to improve quality of life at any stage of cancer, regardless of active treatment.
Research has shown that patients who have palliative care report fewer symptoms, a better quality of life and are more satisfied with their treatment plan.
Palliative care focuses on quality of life during treatment and beyond and includes management of:
People sometimes confuse palliative care and hospice care. Or don't really know what palliative care means. Hospice care is provided to patients with more advanced disease and are expected to live six months or less.
As care transitions to the hospice model, palliative care continues with additional supportive care that likely won't include active cancer treatment. When moving into hospice care, hope is reframed again with the goals of providing comfort, peace and quality of life during the last months, weeks and days of life.
My hope is that you are all living your life in the best way possible with good quality of life, a sense of meaning and purpose, and positive emotional and spiritual well-being. If you are interested in learning more about palliative care and how it can help you, please have the conversation with your care provider.
How have you or a loved one experienced palliative care?
Send an email to invite people you know to join the Cancer Education Center page.