Podcasts

Living well with serious illness: Cathy’s breast cancer story

March 11, 2018

Cathy, 62, has always loved jogging and doing step aerobics, but her true passion is tending to the flowers in her garden.

“I just love being outside and getting my hands in the dirt,” says Cathy, born and raised in Dayton, Ohio.

Cathy will be the first to tell you that gardening takes both patience and the willingness to start anew when a flower doesn’t grow like she’d hoped. “It’s okay when something doesn’t go your way out there. It’s all about adapting and moving forward,” says Cathy.

Cathy has had to apply those same principles to her own life as well. A diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer in 2012—the second time she had been diagnosed with this illness—halted her active and productive life. She faced an uphill climb of difficult chemotherapy regiments and an uncertain future.

After dealing with painful symptoms from the chemotherapy and the stress of managing the ups and downs of her battle for over four years, she asked for better care from her medical professionals. She was referred to palliative care who now work every day to get her back to her active life.

This is Cathy’s story.

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Treating pain and breathing challenges: Matt’s palliative care story

March 4, 2018

Matt is about to start another abstract painting. With classic rock music blasting in the background, he holds the brush between his lips, steadies his neck and presses the brush against the canvas.

A few months ago, Matt, 38, wouldn’t have believed you if you told him he’d be painting again. Fourteen years ago, a severe car accident left him paralyzed from the upper chest down. While his diaphragm wasn’t paralyzed in the accident, it was weakened significantly, which has caused Matt to have breathing problems that have grown progressively worse over time. Those issues coupled with severe nerve pain and the emotional stress of dealing with the traumatic events of the accident have been a daily struggle.

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Living well with serious illness: Gregory’s lung cancer story

January 28, 2018

Gregory has never been much of a runner. When it comes to exercise, he’s always preferred hiking. But tomorrow, along with his wife and two young children, he’s going to attempt to run his first 5K. For any of us who don’t run very often, a race like this would seem like a challenge in and of itself. But for Gregory—who has been living with stage IV metastatic non-small cell lung cancer for a little over a year now—it’s much more than that.

“If you had asked me back then if I ever thought I’d be here preparing to run a race, I wouldn’t have believed you,” says Gregory from his home outside Atlanta.

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Living well with serious illness: Barbara and Laren’s pancreatic cancer story

January 14, 2018

For 50 years—three years of courtship and 47 years of marriage—Barbara and Laren of Atlanta have always struck the perfect balance. Barbara, the retired nurse and eternal optimist, is a bubbly dreamer who loves spending her free time in her garden so she can “hold mother nature’s hand.” Laren, the scientist and down-to-earth realist, is guided by practicality and a strict adherence to facts and numbers. Yet ever since the two met riding bikes while in college, they’ve been inseparable.

“We are very different people but it’s always just worked for us,” says Barbara. “Laren is the calm and patient one,” she adds through laughter.

Barbara has always been her family’s rock. While raising four highly-accomplished children or helping Laren deal with the struggles of his heart condition, Barbara has always been there standing strong. But more than two years ago, Barbara was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and seemingly out of nowhere, the couple’s lives flipped upside down.

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Living well with serious illness: Karena’s colon cancer story

December 3, 2017

Many patients facing serious illness say that some of the most difficult things to deal with are pain, stress and a loss of control. This is because an illness like cancer, COPD, kidney disease or ALS can make an independent person feel helpless for the first time in their lives.

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Living well with serious illness: Toby’s palliative care story

September 8, 2017

When we go into the hospital, we want to be treated for whatever is ailing us. We also expect to be heard and validated.

When Toby Palma, a Las Vegas, Nevada woman in her early 40s, went into the emergency room several times complaining of severe pain all over her body, the doctors kept telling her it was a minor kidney infection. … Read More

Living well with serious illness: Kat’s palliative care story

July 31, 2017

Kat Harrison of Dayton, OH has never been the type to sit around. As a former softball player and as a hard-working professional who often balanced multiple jobs, she has always been on the move. And luckily for her, she’s a frequent babysitter to four rambunctious grandchildren. As a result, she can often be found running around trying to keep things under control. She doesn’t mind.

“Oh my gosh, what isn’t there to like about being a grandmother? You see, being a parent is great, but being a grandparent is even better because you can be there for them and play with them, but then you get to send them back home and get some rest,” says Kat through laughter. … Read More

Living well with serious illness: Marion B’s palliative care story

June 12, 2017

Marion Blankenship of Charlotte, North Carolina lights up when she talks about her family, especially her eight grandchildren. She beams with pride when you ask her about her job working with kids at a childcare development center. And, she smiles ear to ear when she talks about her hobbies, like singing in church, cooking, or exercising at her local YMCA. … Read More

Living well with serious illness: Joyce’s palliative care story

April 17, 2017

Ever since 74-year-old Joyce Montgomery of Atlanta, Georgia was diagnosed with liposarcoma—a rare form of cancer that arises in the fat cells of soft tissue—she’s faced major decisions about her treatment. As her illness has progressed, she has also struggled with anxiety and physical symptoms from her disease and treatment. Through it all, Joyce has had one mission: to keep doing the things she loves for the people she loves.

This is Joyce’s Palliative Care Story. … Read More

5 ways palliative care can support you at diagnosis

March 24, 2017

In our previous blog post we noted how a recent study found that early palliative care improves quality of life, reduces depression, and improves satisfaction with care.

First, it’s very important to understand exactly what palliative care is. Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) 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 teams work with your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. And, you don’t have to wait to get it.

But how does palliative care specifically support patients and their families at diagnosis? … Read More