End-Of-Life Care For Cancer Patients Can Help Bring More Value To Life

Today, on World Cancer Day, the goal is to raise awareness of the disease in order to hopefully prevent as many cases as possible in the future.

But the reality is, cancer continues to pervade people’s lives, with statistics puttingcancer deaths at 8.2 million people per year around the world — four million of which are people aged 30 to 69 years old.

Death is an important part of the conversation when it comes to cancer, which is why specialists have become focused on ensuring patients know their options when it comes to palliative care.

For Dr. James Downar, a critical care and palliative care staff physician at Toronto General Hospital, he’s seen an increased recognition in the value of palliative care, and better adoption of it earlier on in the disease course.

“Palliative care is often thought of as speciality of medicine that is only given to people at the very end, and that’s not true anymore,” he explains to The Huffington Post Canada. “Our intention is to help with symptoms and decision making, and that’s often relevant much earlier than people realize.”

Dr. Pippa Hawley, the palliative care program medical leader at the BC Cancer Agency, would prefer the conversations that can help these notions start even before you get sick. That’s why she’s started holding Bucket List Festivals across B.C., fundraising events to help people figure out how to make the most out of their lives when their time is limited.

As former patient Ian Dunlop Reid wrote on his blog about one of the events, “The best thing I took away was a reconnection with my own life — a reconnection that happened because I was forced to consider in a very practical way, my death.”

While difficult to approach, advanced care planning is what can make the difference between patients feeling like they have some autonomy over their plan, and losing control. Decisions that have to be made include everything from which life-saving measures they will allow to who makes the decisions for them, if they’re not able to themselves.

Read More Here: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/02/04/end-of-life-care-cancer_n_9151774.html