Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Debunking the myth of giving in...

I'm still digging out from the firehose of information that poured in when I was on vacation a few weeks ago, but this is one I thought was worth sharing.  From a story that appeared on Boston.com (see here).

I remember my mother-in-law's final year of life.  Joan pursued aggressive treatments for her cancer with a great deal of poise, grace and dignity.  But as the disease progressed, The Question loomed.  Is it time for hospice?  Is it time to give up?

Hospice and palliative care are often viewed as beyond the measures of last resort.  When all hope is gone, then it's time to give in to it, to succumb.  To die.

But a recent study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital suggested otherwise.  From the piece:
Researchers from the Boston hospital are reporting today, however, that patients with advanced lung cancer who started palliative care soon after diagnosis not only suffered less, they lived almost three months longer than patients not provided these services. And that longer survival came even though the palliative care patients were less inclined to opt for aggressive end-of-life care.
Though these results are yet to be replicated elsewhere, it's important to note that comfort and compassion can bring hope, not signal its loss.

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