You Only Die Once

Cancer is a battle for some people. But for others it's a negotiation. And palliative care is a large part of that. I'm happy to see more health care professional training on how to make a patient comfortable when there's not a lot to be done clinically. 

I am hearing more about doctors having those tough conversations with patients about their options, and their risks. The way we talk about this matters a great deal. Patients who think they have to fight as hard as possible, for as long as possible, may not have time to do what they need to at the end of their life (because they aren't aware that the end is near.) 

When described as "feeling well for as long as possible" or "free of pain" or "time to say goodbye," palliative care can allow a person to deal with what is coming. Death from cancer or a terminal illness should not be a surprise. The need of clinicians, historically, to avoid admitting defeat, should be secondary to the primary need of patients to know what is happening to them, and what is coming next. 

As scary as it is, we need to talk about death. And a dignified, peaceful death is something to strive for -- let's help make that the standard.