Terminal Illness #AtoZChallenge
Typically when we think of chronic illness we don’t think of terminal illnesses. However many illnesses that end in a terminal condition can, in fact, be a result of a chronic illness. By definition, a chronic illness can be one that lasts more than three to six months. There are many terminal illnesses that would also be considered a chronic illness.
Several members of my extended family have battled cancer over a number of years. Some are still fighting the battle, keeping it at some sort of bay. Others are not so lucky. I have other family members who have battled kidney disease, one of who even had a transplant. Many times in my life I have encountered those who were so ill that it was deemed by them and their physicians that hospice care was the most logical path.
Sometimes the decision is made to forego further treatment in order to improve the quality of the limited time they have left. While this can be a controversial topic, I believe everyone has the right to determine their own best course of healthcare. Sometimes the treatments we may endure may not definitively prolong our lives and may leave us extremely sick or weak as a result. Maintaining a good and open rapport with your physicians is imperative in understanding where in this treatment process you may find yourself.
A relatively new change healthcare that could potentially cause concern, is the involvement of palliative care physicians early in your treatment. Palliative care has typically been thought of as an end-of-life option. However, the palliative care physician has evolved in many areas. Well before my brother reached a point in his cancer care that things were deemed to be terminal for him the palliative care team was involved in his care.
The first time we met with them in the ICU they explained to us that their role is expanding. In today’s healthcare system they are taking a more proactive role, with the express hope of decreasing suffering while increasing quality of life. This treatment can take many forms depending on your particular medical scenario. They also continue to make themselves available in the more traditional role of hospice and end-of-life care.
For those who are facing the decision as to whether to continue battling a seemingly never-ending battle with a disease process, this is a very difficult and personal choice. To some, it may sound like giving up. A better way to look at it is that the person is coming to terms with their situation, and choosing to embrace the time they have left and doing their best to ensure it is quality time with those they love.