HELP: I’m angry, I was referred to the palliative team, and I haven’t even started my treatments!
No, your health care team is not giving up on you. On the contrary, you are being referred to services proven by research to be most effective. Before telling you more about the research, let me first clarify a popular misconception. There is a mistaken belief that palliative care is only for people who are dying. On the contrary, you can receive curative and/or life prolonging medical treatment and palliative care at the same time.
More importantly, in research, patients who received early palliative care had significant improvements in both quality of life and mood, patients also received less aggressive care at the end of life and had longer survival (Temel, et al., N Engl J Med. 2010 Aug 19;363(8):733-42). More than half a dozen of studies, including randomized controlled trials and meta-analysis are listed www.end-of-life-doula.org/resources.
Patients can be referred to palliative care at any illness stage. While this can vary by the availability of resources, hospice care is typically recommended for people estimated to live less than six months.
Palliative and hospice care are often confused because both focus on your quality of life and your comfort. Both teams are trained to help you make important decisions about your life and medical treatment, and both provide you and your family with emotional support.
In Canada, hospice and palliative services are understaffed and underfunded. Ideally, all Canadians dealing with a serious or long-term illness and their families. would have a team of professionals looking after their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. End-of-life doulas are stepping in to fill the emotional and spiritual needs.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your palliative care team or me -- a life coach & end of life doula (see blog “How do I prepare for the worst and hope for the best” for additional information on pragmatic support doula offer www.end-of-life-doula.org/blogs). You don’t need to face your cancer alone.