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Your Cancer Answers: How can palliative care benefit cancer patients?
Your Cancer Answers

Your Cancer Answers: How can palliative care benefit cancer patients?

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Matt Katics

Matt Katics

Friends are good to have, especially when times are tough. We want our friends to delight in our victories and show compassion in our defeats. A true friend tells it like it is, with kindness and humility, and knows when to be silent. A friend will inspire and push us to be our best self and hold us when our energies are truly spent.

Palliative medicine is meant to be a true friend, or “pal” to those with serious illness. The pal care team includes physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, chaplains, and nurses who strive to focus on the person at least as much as (usually more than) the illness. By working closely with your medical team, pal care can: provide expert guidance in symptom relief (from pain, breathlessness, depression, fatigue, insomnia, etc); help answer questions about the illness, treatments, and what to expect; empower patients and families regarding choices, care planning, and goals; emphasize quality of life and patient values; and/or help optimize function, health, access to resources, and medical treatments.

Not only does palliative care work to improve quality of life in patients with advanced cancer, studies also show it helps them live longer. Improvement in longevity makes sense when you consider that poorly controlled symptoms, both physical and emotional, place an incredible amount of stress on the body. Prolonged burden and stress can themselves shorten life. People who feel better do better; pal care patients were also able to continue cancer treatments with less difficulty.

In summary, palliative care is about living well, providing an extra layer of support, and having a team focus to patient and family care. Palliative care must be differentiated from hospice or end of life care, as it can and should be provided earlier in the illness to help achieve the best outcome. By working in conjunction with core physicians and treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy, pal care can positively affect the course of illness as well as enhance quality of life.

As part of our commitment to human kindness, Dignity Health Central Coast offers palliative care services both in the hospital and at home. Illness can affect every part of our lives ... physical, spiritual, financial, emotional. If you are struggling with cancer or serious illness of any kind, let us be your pal. For referral or more information, call the palliative care office. Tina McEvoy, RN, is our Clinical Director. (805) 739-3950.

Please join us for an evening with our Palliative Care Director Matthew Katics, DO to learn how palliative medicine can help you or your loved one live better, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. VIRTUAL/ZOOM. To register please call Ashley Hahn, Mission Hope, Santa Maria at (805) 346-3402

HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by Marian Cancer Care invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address

Matthew Katics, DO, is the Palliative Care Director at Mission Hope Cancer Center.


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