What do you think of when you hear ‘palliative care’? Being in hospital, pain management and the final days of life? Palliative care is often misinterpreted to be just end-of-life care, but it’s perhaps better described as quality of life care, or supportive care. The multi-disciplinary approach of palliative care is designed to enable you to live your life to the best of your ability by identifying and supporting your physical, emotional and social needs and wishes.
When Ken’s wife, Dale, was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, the couple knew it was important to talk about what Dale would want at each stage of her journey. Ken says having those conversations early ensured both his family and Dale’s healthcare team could honour her wishes right to the end. Now, Ken, who lives with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is applying those principles to his own experience.
“We found there was a huge gap in actually being linked in with palliative care early on so sometimes you have to be proactive. We didn’t know who to talk to and it was difficult to know where to go to find advice,” he said.
“Once we connected with our local palliative care service, they provided us with the support services we needed to help deal with what was going on physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Our Lung Cancer Support Nurse, Nicole, says palliative care is about improving your quality of life by managing symptoms and treatment side effects, helping with emotional and social needs, enhancing communication with family and friends, and assisting you to access practical support.
“It also encompasses providing information and advice to help you make the numerous decisions that can evolve when faced with a life-limiting illness, as well as providing family support.”
The types of support and services will vary, based on your needs, but may include support from social workers, dieticians, occupational, speech and physio therapists, psychologists, pain management specialists and pastoral care.
“Talking with your healthcare team and your loved ones as early as possible is important to help you to live as comfortably and as fully as possible. You may need to engage palliative care from diagnosis or when you have a change in your condition and require extra support or symptom management. The important thing is that you have the conversation early with the people around you,” Nicole said.
“We understand these topics of conversations can be challenging and upsetting but they can help make you and your loved ones feel more comfortable and prepared for making difficult decisions when the time comes.”
Our Lung Cancer Support Nurse provides a telephone- based service for patients, their families and carers at any stage of their lung cancer diagnosis. Nicole is a highly experienced oncology nurse who can provide evidence-based information regarding diagnosis, treatment, symptom management and wellbeing, in addition to guidance about relevant support services.
To arrange a telephone appointment with the Lung Cancer Support Nurse, contact free call 1800 654 301.