The pancreas is an organ near the stomach that is vital to the digestive process because it produces enzymes necessary for breaking down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats from food. The pancreas is also essential in producing both insulin and glucagon, which control metabolism. Pancreatic cancer occurs when growths begin in the pancreas and multiply quickly. Successful treatment for pancreatic cancer depends on early diagnosis. After diagnosis, palliative care is one option that can make someone’s course of treatment easier.
Palliative Care Defined
Palliative care describes treatment options that are meant for people with serious illnesses, like pancreatic cancer. This type of care focuses on helping people deal with symptoms and problems arising from their health issues. Finding ways to manage symptoms like pain and nausea is crucial, especially if your family member is still attempting curative treatments that make some of those symptoms worse for her.
Putting Together a Care Plan
When your family member opts for palliative treatments, a care team works with her and her healthcare providers to put together a plan for her. That plan includes all of the key points your family member needs, ranging from nutritional help to other types of assistance, to feel as well as possible. Your family member’s plan may very well change over time, as her needs, symptoms, and health all change.
Compassionate Guidance Is a Key Component
The purpose of this type of care isn’t to tell your family member what to do, it’s to offer her the help that she needs to focus on her health. Your family member’s palliative team works together to offer her guidance and to help her find solutions to the problems she’s experiencing. If there are new challenges or problems, her care team can work with her to find the right solutions.
Plans Focus on Improving Quality of Life
Some of the tools recommended are likely to involve additional treatments, like massage therapy, or medication, nutritional changes, relaxation techniques, and more. Services like home care might also be part of the plan. Your family member doesn’t have to implement any of the suggestions that she doesn’t like or that she doesn’t feel will help her.
Palliative Options Are Concurrent with Curative Treatments
Another concern that some people have with palliative care is that they’ll have to cease curative treatments, like chemotherapy, in order to try any of the palliative options. Palliative therapies don’t interfere with anything else your family member is trying to battle her pancreatic cancer. As your family member goes through her treatments for pancreatic cancer, she’s able to also access the therapies that help her the most, whether that includes counseling, social support, or hands-on practical assistance.
Palliative care can help your family member and you learn as much as possible about the different ways to help her to live her life as well as she can while she battles pancreatic cancer. There may be other ways that they can help, too, like helping with advance planning and lining up other forms of care as needed.
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