At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, we’re committed to treating your cancer with the most effective therapies available. We’re also committed to making you as comfortable as possible, and to helping you live your life during that treatment. That’s why we encourage patients to take advantage of the many palliative care options we offer.
Palliative care is given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious disease, such as cancer. Palliative care is not treating the cancer itself, but is provided alongside that treatment, to combat symptoms such as pain, says Susan Ash-Lee, LCSW, RMCC director of clinical social work and supportive care.
In cancer specifically, the goal of palliative care — Ash-Lee prefers the term supportive care — is to “prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of a disease, side effects, psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to a disease or its treatment,” according to the National Cancer Institute.
While palliative or supportive care often is confused with hospice care, in fact, the two are quite different, Ash-Lee says. Some of those differences include:
- Starts when treatment starts
- Goal is to treat symptoms and side effects; usually in conjunction with treatment to fight the disease
- Can be provided in hospitals, home, or clinics
- No time limit for how long it can be offered
- Starts after treatment to cure the disease is no longer being provided.
- Goal is to relieve symptoms, and tend to spiritual and emotional needs
- Can be provided in home or hospice setting
- Typically is offered to patients whose life expectancy is six months or less
With supportive or palliative care, “the fundamental idea is ‘How do I live a meaningful life?’ during treatment,” Ash-Lee says. “A lot of patients have had to stop working but still want to make meaningful contributions. Pain and side effects could be a barrier to that. But when we’re able to treat the physical pain, often people can continue to do what they love.”
At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, patients have access to social workers who can either provide emotional support or connect patients with resources in the community. In addition, RMCC offers a number of classes and workshops designed to ease both physical and emotional symptoms of cancer treatment. These include:
Maintaining the ME in Treatment – This 90-minute workshop offers participants an opportunity to:
- reflect on what gives life meaning and purpose
- learn strategies to help stay actively engaged in care
- learn how to talk with family and healthcare providers about values and priorities
The workshop is offered multiple times throughout the year. To learn more, check out our Educational Events listing.
Valued Living with Advanced Cancer – Have you completed primary treatment and are experiencing cancer survivorship related distress, depression, or anxiety? If so, consider participating in a paid seven-week evidence based skill building group and research study. The goal of the program is to help you cope skillfully and move forward living a life that you value. Call (303) 492-8755 for more information and to determine if you are eligible for this study.