Treating the Person, Not Just the Disease

Published 09/26/2014


When faced with a cancer diagnosis, patients and their loved ones often take swift and aggressive action to develop a plan to fight the disease. Doctors are chosen, treatment options are weighed and plans for fighting cancer are outlined. Unfortunately, there is often a missing piece to the cancer treatment puzzle -- palliative care.

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with a serious illness like cancer. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the stress, pain and other symptoms that may come with a diagnosis of cancer. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and for any stage of a disease. It is all about treating the patient as well as the disease. It’s a big shift in focus for health care delivery—and it works.

Legislation proposed in Congress would expand the availability of palliative care to patients. Earlier this month, I traveled to Washington, D.C., with hundreds of fellow advocates, cancer patients and survivors to urge Rep. Kevin Brady to co-sponsor these bills.

For every moment that action is not taken to improve patient access to palliative care, many people battling cancer and other diseases continue to suffer unnecessarily. We must complete the cancer treatment puzzle by working to ensure everyone has access to quality palliative care. For the sake of the 115,730 people expected to be diagnosed with cancer in Texas this year – let’s do it now.

Latina Starling
Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)
The Woodlands, Texas

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