Why Are We Talking About Palliative Care? I’m Not Ready For Hospice!

Posted on Apr 15, 2013 in Research

Q: Why is my oncologist talking about palliative care? I thought my cancer treatment was going well, and I’m certainly not ready for hospice.

A: Palliative care is care that is focused on improving quality of life and decreasing suffering. Palliative care includes all kinds of oncology care that are focused on taking care of the person with cancer, rather than just the cancer itself. So, palliative care is at the heart of holistic care.

The encouraging thing is that people who get early palliative care actually live longer.

So, when your oncologist offers palliative care, know that s/he cares about you. S/he is offering you the ability to live longer and better. Palliative care services can help with reducing pain, improving nausea and vomiting, increasing appetite, and making it easier to breathe. Chronic pain and fear cause inflammation in the body and suppress immune function. So, choosing to feel better also can help you fight the cancer more effectively.

I encourage all of my patients to seek out palliative care when they need it. Feeling well enough to fight can make all the difference.