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My Experience with Palliative Care

Many people confuse palliative care with hospice care, when in fact, they are very different. Palliative Care is defined as “specialized medical care for people with serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.  Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment.”1

What does palliative care involve?

The key words are that palliative care is provided in addition to any curative treatment you are currently participating in. Hospice care is end-of-life care.

Palliative care team members come to your home and review all your tests, treatments, side effects, daily care for yourself and adds an extra layer of support to your caregiver(s).

Your healthcare facility probably has a palliative care department as part of their Medical Care At Home team.  Some of the more common professionals that participate in your care are:

  • In-home Physician
  • In-home Certified Nurse Practitioner
  • Social Worker
  • Pastoral Care

Their primary responsibilities are to help you with any side effects you may be experiencing from your treatment.  From pain to depression to anxiety to nausea and vomiting – they cover it all.  And, the palliative care team works very closely with your primary care physician as well as your oncologist/radiologist.

A positive experience with palliative care

My experience with palliative care began two years after being diagnosed with Lung Cancer.  My only regret is that I didn’t know about this resource sooner.  My nurse comes to my home every month and reviews what has happened in the past four weeks.  She manages my pain.  She manages my general health and nutrition on a monthly basis.

Due to my pain since my lobectomy, a physician also visits me once every three months to work with me on pain management. Pastoral care calls me once a month to see if I would like a visit.

The most surprising was a visit from my social worker.  She reviewed my diagnosis, treatment, income, insurance, etc., and worked to have my state pay Medicare Part B premium.  Those of you on disability know this is huge! (Be prepared for it to take months since you would be dealing with your individual state.) So now, I have an extra $125.00 per month in my disability check that I didn’t know I was eligible for.

Palliative care is for anyone with a chronic illness.  It may not be for everyone but it is at least worth scheduling an intake appointment to see if you are eligible. And the best news is – most insurance companies will cover the expenses!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.



  • Ronda Beaty moderator
    2 months ago

    Palliative care scared me. Reading you article, I will ask my doctor about what services are available in home – as I really don’t want to add even more appointments to travel to. Thank you for the information!

  • Jennifer M. Toth moderator author
    2 months ago

    It is a fantastic resource.

  • CBeatty
    3 months ago

    Not at all impressed with ‘Hospice, for pain control’. As well, the fact that some hide behind HIPPA. Hope more nurses are schooled on Sleep Apnea, that slipped by diagnosed. Keep your patients awake;Keep them alive! since some insurance companies have a bureaucrat of one that refuse rehab; this becomes a future problem! I have had a nurse tell a fiance ‘Since you are not married;We don’t have to tell you anything!’ Put some seasoned ,empathetic nurse
    on board; Experience is important.

  • vikkr
    8 months ago

    Great information.

  • Hill
    1 year ago

    Thank you for the information, Jennifer. As you know, my husband and I are new to this since his diagnosis of lung cancer and subsequent lobectomy. We have just returned home after a 5 day stent in the hospital due to pneumonia.We are coming home with a picc line for 3 more weeks with an antibiotic. There is so much to learn !I will look into palliative care in the future. Appreciatively, Sandra

  • mb57
    2 years ago

    Thank you for that information. I found it to be very helpful as I didn’t know much about Palliative Care. Coming your way Jennifer.

  • Jennifer M. Toth moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you mb57. Let us know if you contact your Palliative care team and how it goes for you. Sending best wishes.

  • Jennifer M. Toth moderator author
    1 year ago

    Your welcome best wishes!

  • mb57
    1 year ago

    Thank you Jennifer

  • coco1101
    2 years ago

    Jennifer, This is pretty interesting! My Onc has asked me twice if I wanted a referral to their Palliative care peeps, I’ve said “no”. After reading your story, I might try it once and see if I have interest in the types of services they have to offer. Thanks! Gail L

  • Jennifer M. Toth moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi Gail, I was very apprehensive at first and ask myself why I didn’t do it upon diagnosis. It is FANTASTIC. Best of luck to you.

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