5 things to know about palliative care this Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Woman hugging woman with cancer

5 things to know about palliative care this Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Palliative care can help you manage breast cancer.

A diagnosis of serious breast cancer is scary. You’re faced with treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, and side effects and symptoms such as pain, nausea, fatigue and anxiety. Things can feel overwhelming. Palliative care will help. Here’s what you need to know…

1. Palliative care is a specialised type of medical care that focuses on patient and caregiver quality of life. The goal is to help people deal with the many burdens that can come with a disease and its treatments, including pain, nausea, constipation, anxiety, and fatigue. Studies, including one published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have shown that patients with a serious illness who received palliative care lived longer than those who did not receive this care.

2. Palliative care, also sometimes called “supportive care”, addresses any and all symptoms – physical, emotional, financial, psychological and more – that cause suffering for a person with a serious illness.

3. It is not the same thing as end-of-life or hospice care, which is a specific type of palliative care that typically starts only when someone has six months or less to live. The big difference: palliative care can be given simultaneously alongside curative or targeted medical care — so you can still receive it while undergoing chemotherapy to treat cancer, for example.

4. The palliative care team spends the time it takes to help you match your treatment choices to your goals. They will also make sure that all of your doctors know and understand what you want. This gives you more control over your care and will improve your quality of life.

5. You can receive palliative care at home, in hospitals, in doctors’ offices and other places, depending on what type of help you need and where you’re getting medical treatment. The sooner a person with a serious illness starts working with a palliative care team the better to help eliminate as much unnecessary pain and suffering as possible. 

If you think you or someone you know might benefit from palliative care, a good first step is to talk to your physician or medical provider, who can refer you to a palliative care doctor near you. To find a palliative care practitioner near you, visit palprac.org, or for more info email us at info@alignd.co.za

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