As a mesothelioma patient, it’s important to understand the concept of palliative care and how it can help you.
Simply put, palliative care aims to relieve mesothelioma symptoms like pain even if the pain relief efforts are not helping to treat the disease.
Palliative care focuses on mesothelioma symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and depression, according to The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC). It also helps you gain the strength to carry on with daily life. It improves your ability to tolerate medical treatments such as chemotherapy.
Palliative care differs from hospice care. Palliative care is part of hospice care but palliative care can and should be part of care for a patient in pain at any stage of life. Hospice involves a variety of different types of care given to a patient in the final phase of life and no longer undergoing any kind of medical treatment to prolong life. But palliative care patients can be simultaneously receiving life-sustaining medical care.
In the old days without ambulances or hospitals, trying to relieve pain and suffering was about all people could do for someone struggling with illness or injury. Then as medical care became more advanced, making patients feel better somehow got lost in all the sophisticated technology wired into healthcare.
Now the pendulum is swinging back a bit the other way.
“The focus on a patient’s quality of life has increased greatly during the past twenty years. In the United States today, 55% of hospitals with more than 100 beds offer a palliative-care program, and nearly one-fifth of community hospitals have palliative-care programs,” Wikipedia’s entry on palliative care states.
But more progress is needed. There is still just one palliative medicine physician for every 1,200 people with a chronic disease even though demand is increasing for this kind of care. We hope that hospitals and medical practitioners continue to add palliative care as a way to optimize their patients’ treatment.