Palliative care helps your doctor, too

When you have a serious illness like cancer or heart disease, your relationship with your doctor is important. It’s so important that many patients worry their doctor will be upset if they ask for extra help to cope with pain or other symptoms.

The truth is that doctors are glad to have an extra layer of support. Why? Because it helps them focus on fighting your underlying illness.

Doctors know their patients will do better if they have less pain and well-managed symptoms. Patients also cope better if they have in-depth communication about their options for medical treatments and how those match their personal goals. But specialists for cancer or heart disease don’t always have the time or the know-how to deal with these parts of your care.

That’s where palliative care comes in.

Palliative care is a medical specialty provided by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers and other specialists who work with your other doctors. Your palliative care team will work closely with you, your family and your doctors to build a plan for your care that centers on your own goals and needs.

You can get palliative care at the same time as treatment for your disease. It will help manage your pain and symptoms. It will help you understand your treatment options. And it will help you, and your family, cope with the day-to-day challenges of living with a serious illness.

Your doctor will be relieved to have a palliative care team focused on improving your symptoms and quality of life. So, if you are dealing with symptoms and side effects from your illness, just ask for a palliative care referral.

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