Many people (those with alterations like yours, and those without) worry about palliative care, and some think it is the same as end-of-life or hospice care, but they are actually different.1 Palliative care is there to help and support you throughout your specific illness – no matter what type of cancer or genetic alterations you have.
Here at Younity, we’ll help you understand a bit more about exactly what palliative care is, how it is different from end-of-life care, and why you may want to consider it. We’ve also partnered with people like you, who have non-small cell lung cancer, and they’ve shared their experiences of how palliative care fitted into their treatment. Click here to learn their stories.
Palliative, or supportive, care is designed to help people with serious illnesses, like cancer, to live as full a life as possible. It’s about combining medical treatments with emotional, spiritual, and (sometimes) financial support, so that the person with cancer is treated as a whole.1
With palliative care, you can still make decisions about what treatments and interventions you decide to receive. This differs from end-of-life care, where you might not be physically or mentally able to make those decisions.
Crucially, palliative care does not mean giving up on anything – it’s just an additional way of giving you help and support.1
If you continue to struggle with pain or symptoms from your cancer, your healthcare team will be able to offer you additional support such as medicines, surgery, radiotherapy, physiotherapy, and occupational health services.2,3
With these, your healthcare team will aim to either remove your pain or symptoms, or at least make them more manageable so that you can continue to live your life without it affecting you as much.
Understandably, after receiving a cancer diagnosis, you might find yourself struggling with feelings like anxiety, stress, depression, or hopelessness, or you might just want to have somebody to talk to.
Your healthcare team might refer you to counselling or psychological support services.2 These services can help you work through any emotional difficulties or mental health problems you may be experiencing, so that you can hopefully focus more on what matters to you.
If you practice a faith, then consulting your local leader may be a source of comfort and support for you.2 Many hospitals also have faith rooms for prayer or reflection if you (or any carers or loved ones with you) feel you need this while at an appointment.
There may also be certain rituals associated with your culture or faith that you would like observed (for example, praying, fasting at certain times, bathing, etc.), and support is available for you at these times too.
Spirituality isn’t confined to those who practise a faith. You may carry out other activities that are meaningful to you and your well-being, such as journaling, keeping a diary, or practising meditation. Whatever you like to do, you can ask for help and support if you need it.
Palliative care services may also go beyond just the person with cancer – after all, your family, friends, carers, and any other loved ones are a crucial part of your support network. These services may also be able to offer support to your family and loved ones, too.2 This could take many forms including:
If you feel like you could benefit from some of the support mentioned here, then why not ask your healthcare team about palliative care?
You’ll probably have a few different tests and scans after your diagnosis – these help your doctor learn more about your cancer so they can work with you to draw up a treatment plan.
Changes to DNA can cause some cancers to start growing. ALK+, RET+, and ROS1+ are examples of these changes.