If you or a loved one have received a breast cancer diagnosis, you know that it can be scary. You may have gone from thinking everything was okay to suddenly needing to decide about surgery and starting treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy. On top of this, you may experience symptoms such as pain, nausea, anxiety, and fatigue. Combined, this may all feel very stressful and overwhelming. You’re not alone. Palliative care can help.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a specially trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment.
How Can Palliative Care Help with Breast Cancer?
People living with breast cancer often need to make decisions about treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. With the variety of side effects that may come up and decisions that need to be made, it can be helpful to have a team of people to guide you and your family. This team—palliative care—will keep your quality of life and other priorities top of mind.
Once you ask for a referral to palliative care, the team will work closely with your oncologist and other doctors (who are experts in treating breast cancer). They will ensure that your needs are always top of mind. The palliative care team will also work closely with you and your family to help with pain and symptoms, offer support, and much more. They will focus on learning about what is important to you so that you can get back to your daily activities and feel more like yourself.
How to Get Palliative Care
If you or a loved one needs palliative care, make sure to ask your doctor for a referral.
If you want to learn more about how palliative care can help you or someone you love who is living with breast cancer, click here. Or, find out how you or a loved one can benefit from palliative care, regardless of the illness.
You can also listen to a podcast about how palliative care helped Cathy, who received palliative care when living with breast cancer.
GetPalliativeCare.Org is an online resource for patients and families that focuses solely on providing information on palliative care from the point of diagnosis.