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Palliative Care and Curative Care: An Essential Partnership for Patients

Palliative Care and Curative Care: An Essential Partnership for Patients

Palliative Care and Curative Care: An Essential Partnership for Patients

My mother received a diagnosis of head and neck cancer last year. Since then, she has undergone 3 surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapies and immunotherapy. All the while, the tumors kept growing and nothing has worked to stop the disease.

Then, thirteen months after diagnosis and the start of treatment, the oncologist suggested that it might be time to move to a phase of Palliative care, bringing focused pain management into the picture for the first time; the side effects of the treatments made it very difficult for her to take in the necessary nutrients for survival and was compromising treatment.

We were introduced to Dr. Sunil Dhiliwal and in an instant, my mother felt relieved. His focus was on pain management so that the curative physicians could do their work.

Unfortunately, my mother’s test results showed that the tumors were continuing to grow aggressively and that her nutrition levels were low. There came a point where my mother conveyed to the doctors and the family that she wanted to stop all treatment. She was tired and discouraged. This is the point where we moved her into Hospice Care.

Dr. Dhiliwal explained that Palliative Care focuses on quality of life care to work alongside curative care being provided by the oncologist. He explained that the next phase, Hospice Care, is quality of death care, to ensure that my mother is able to pass with respect, dignity and peace. With daily visits, Dr. Dhiliwal worked hard to (a) listen to the patient, (b) honor her instructions, and (c) to keep her comfortable and pain free.

After a short period on Hospice care, my mother decided that she wanted to resume treatment. Dr. Dhiliwal’s protocols had given her the peace, rest and strength to resume her fight. Taking a break from the pain allowed her to refocus on what she really wanted. Without missing a beat, Dr. Dhiliwal immediately set up the IV fluids and nutrients to get her back on track and ready to resume curative treatment.

Our journey has taught us that it is a mistake to only think of treatment as curative care. Palliative care provides pain management and a holistic approach to keep the patient comfortable and able to withstand the curative treatment. Without this essential piece of the puzzle, the patient may lose their resolve to withstand the necessary curative treatments and experience unnecessary distress. In fact, I would like to see Palliative Care introduced as a standard protocol for all cancer patients immediately following diagnosis.

Our experience has proved that all cancer treatment, beginning with diagnosis, must involve both palliative and curative care as essential partners in treatment protocols. Anything less falls short of providing the patient with all dimensions to give them the best chance at survival.

Author Details:
Will be provided at request
[email protected]

Palliative Care Team:
Dr Sunil Dhiliwal & team


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