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Reader's view: Palliative care helps patients and families

From the moment a person hears, “You have cancer,” they often are dealing with pain, stress and other symptoms. Many don’t realize there’s an extra layer of support patients at any stage of a serious disease can get along with their curative treatment. Palliative care pairs trained specialists with doctors and nurses focused on the cancer treatment itself in a team-based approach to manage pain and other side effects of treatment to help improve quality of life for patients.

Palliative care is a big shift in focus for health care delivery. It focuses on treating the person beyond the disease.

Recently, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan became a co-sponsor of pending legislation to educate patients about palliative care, provide improved training for health care providers and support more comprehensive research on the benefits of palliative care.

As a hospital chaplain, longtime volunteer with the American Cancer Society, and a daughter whose parents both suffered with cancer, I applaud Rep. Nolan for adding his name to the growing list of lawmakers supporting patients’ quality of life. Congress must take this opportunity to expand access to palliative care to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families facing cancer.

Patti P. Maguire