Palliative care respects your decisions

When you or a loved one is facing a serious illness, there can be a lot of choices to make. You may have to make a decision on what hospital to go to for your care. Sometimes there are different options to choose from to treat your illness. Then there are questions like, “Should I continue working while my illness is being treated?” or “Should I go on vacation or stay home to rest?”

Luckily, there are medical professionals available to help you make the decisions that fit your priorities and goals. They are called palliative care specialists.

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. It gives you, your family and doctors an extra layer of support. It will treat your pain and other symptoms. It will help you understand your treatment options. And it will help you cope with the everyday challenges of living with a serious illness. Palliative care specialists will also work with you to tackle the tough decisions. They put you and your family in the driver’s seat.

What the Experts Are Saying

Palliative care specialists often begin by asking you about what’s most important to you. The reason for this is that every person has a different answer to the question: What does quality of life mean to you?  If your doctors understand how you want to live your life, they can work with you to match your treatment options to those goals. They can recommend the appropriate dosage of pain medication to take, or how to plan for a big life event like a vacation or an important work function.

In this video, Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Practitioner, Margaret Farrar-Laco of Akron Children’s Hospital, discusses how palliative care respects the choices of patients and families at all costs, and how empowering patients makes her profession a rewarding one.

Spending More time with Family

One of your priorities might be staying out of the hospital as much as possible so you can be home with loved ones.

David, a devoted family man, is a colorectal cancer survivor who suffered from complications as a result of his treatment. After repeated visits to the emergency room to deal with the pain, David asked for palliative care. His primary goal was to remain at home to enjoy quality time with his family. David’s palliative care team helps manage his pain but also helps him and his family deal with the stress that comes with the difficulties. Thanks to his palliative care treatment, David is now able to enjoy life at home as he continues his recovery.

Hear from David as well as members of the palliative care team treating him and his family.

Getting Back to Doing What You Love

Debbie is a hairdresser and business owner who was unable to work due to neuropathy from multiple myeloma. Doing hair has always been her life’s passion. Debbie’s palliative care team put her back in the driver’s seat by considering her priorities and addressing the pain and stress related to her disease. Hear from Debbie as she returns to the profession she loves as well as Dr. Bridget Tracy, a member of the palliative care team treating her.

Continuing to Travel and Explore

Waving from the saddle of a camel. Jet skiing to the Statue of Liberty. Climbing the Great Wall of China. This is what you’ll find Amy Berman—who was diagnosed with stage IV inflammatory breast cancer in October, 2010—doing these days. Since choosing palliative care and remaining in control of her own medical decisions, Amy says she is enjoying a “full life” of work, travel and quality time with loved ones.

“I did something so simple. I chose palliative care, and it led to better health and a more active life,” says Amy. Amy’s story is a reminder of how palliative care empowers patients and families to match their goals with the care they receive.

For any step in your journey, resources about palliative care are available at www.getpalliativecare.org. Through this site, you can see if palliative care is right for you or a family member and find out where you can find a team near you so you can get started today.

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