Palliative Care Can Help You Right at Diagnosis

February, 2017

If you or a loved one has just been diagnosed with a serious illness—like cancer, heart disease, dementia, ALS or others—palliative care can help you right away.

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. It provides relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care can work alongside your doctors to provide an extra layer of support, and you don’t have to wait to get it.

A recent study found that early palliative care improves quality of life, reduces depression and improves satisfaction with care. The study also found that palliative care may help prolong life.

While every person’s journey and experience with serious illness is different, there are common denominators. In his book Life After the Diagnosis, Dr. Steven Z. Pantilat, a renowned international expert in palliative care, shares innovative approaches for dealing with serious illness, outlines the steps that patients should take, and how they can better navigate the medical system. He makes sense of what doctors say, what they actually mean, and how to get the best information to help make the best medical decisions possible.

“It’s not about the decisions you make, but making sure that the decisions you do make are based on real evidence and real information,” says Dr. Pantilat.

The book covers everything from the first steps after diagnosis and finding the right caregiving and support, to planning your future so your loved ones don’t have to. Dr. Pantilat offers advice on how to tackle the most difficult treatment decisions and discussions and shows readers how to choose treatments that stay consistent with their values and personal goals. He also emphasizes that no matter where you are in your illness, there is always more to be discussed and planned.

“A diagnosis of serious illness can be incredibly frightening. It can be bewildering to think about how to move forward. The important message is that you can move forward to get really good care,” says Dr. Pantilat.

In this video, Dr. Pantilat explains how palliative can help you and your loved ones.

In our next post, we will give you five ways palliative care can help you at diagnosis.