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Hospice Care And Cancer – Myth vs Truth

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Whether your loved one has been battling cancer for a long time, or they just received this devastating diagnosis, you probably have questions. Seeing them in pain likely makes you wonder what route of care will relieve it. There’s so much conflicting information online and a general misunderstanding of modern hospice care, which can make it hard to make an informed decision. 

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely seeking the best plan of care for your loved one. You may see conflicting opinions online about hospice care for patients with cancer. You want to know — is this information truth or a myth? We’re here to clarify what is true, and not true, about modern hospice care. Our goal is for you to make the best informed decision with your loved one.

So, let’s dig in. Myth or truth?

“Quitting chemotherapy is giving up on life, and hospice care just seals the deal.”

Despite there being strong opinions on this one, this belief is a myth! 

Each individual has their own reason for ceasing their chemotherapy treatments. Maybe the treatments aren’t working. They are often very painful and difficult to withstand the aftermath. There can be significant side effects of chemo and radiation. Or, after years of putting up with the physical and emotional turmoil, the patient  simply doesn’t want to continue these treatments. 

Patients who decide to stop these treatments are seeking a better quality of life. They comprehend that they are drawing near to their end of life, and they want to enjoy it the best they can. Switching over to hospice care is often viewed as “giving up” because its focus is on comfort, pain management, and maintaining as much normalcy as possible. 

However, hospice care for patients with cancer does not encourage them to “give up.” Quite the opposite is true. Hospice patients are encouraged to make new memories with loved ones and are empowered to do so through pain management and assisted living. They are provided with supportive caregivers and ministers who support them emotionally and spiritually. Instead of spending countless days in a hospital, these patients get to be in the comfort of their homes, with their loved ones, without such intense pain.

“Patients who have access to opioids can overdose on them.”

Unfortunately, this statement is true. But not within the scope of modern, professional hospice care.

It is becoming more and more prevalent that patients suffer from opioid overdose. This can lead to devastating and irreversible damage. That’s why it is very important to take only the prescribed amounts of medication, and no more. Here at Envision Hospice, we take this seriously.

Physician-prescribed medication can be a wonderful tool in hospice care for patients with cancer. Some patients have described it as “miraculous.” A good, responsible regimen of pain medication can help a patient to endure, and even enjoy, their last months of life. With effective pain relief, many patients find that they are able to do activities they weren’t able to while receiving chemotherapy treatments. Even tasks like watering plants, sitting on their patio, or preparing a simple meal can significantly boost a patient’s morale and brighten their day. 

happy grandmother and granddaughter playing with joysticks, cancer concept

However, it is vitally important to follow the instructions on each medication. Through home hospice care, patients receive assistance in measuring and taking medication. Patients and family members are given direction every step of the way to ensure that the patient receives the appropriate dosage. Again, Envision Hospice takes this topic seriously and our staff are trained extensively on properly giving medication. 

 “The side effects of pain medication aren’t worth it.”

For the vast majority of cases, patients find this statement to be a myth!

It is true that opioids come with a variety of side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and constipation. Constipation is the most common side effect we have come across. However, the majority of patients would agree that these side effects pale in comparison to the pain they suffered without their medication.

Hospice care for patients with cancer focuses on pain management and comfort. This means that, in addition to administering pain relief, our staff is equipped and prepared to help patients overcome their affiliated side effects. Our patients are given supports to help them through their constipation and maintain their comfort. Nurses provide aid to lessen nausea and diarrhea. 

Additionally, our staff is prepared to act on aggressive pain symptoms that may arise. Envision Hospice staff are able to use long- and short-acting medication for breakthrough pain, ensuring that each patient is as comfortable as possible. Without pain medication, we often see patients suffer from shortness of breath. This is due to their pain. It causes a cycle: waves of pain, shortness of breath, then more pain. This is why the medication is viewed as such a blessing — patients are enabled to do more, enjoy their company more, and look forward to their day.

“Hospice care for patients with cancer doesn’t consider the family.”

With most hospice care facilities, and especially with Envision Hospice, this statement is a myth.

We care deeply for our families. Your loved one is nearing their end of life. You’re watching as they receive a difficult diagnosis, go through painful treatments, and make really hard decisions. You love and care about your loved one, and you’re doing something incredibly difficult and brave by joining them in their journey.

elderly sick old man resting in bed talking with caring granddaughter

As part of any patient’s plan of care, family members are provided with unlimited support. Our staff includes chaplains and social workers who are available to families, no matter what role you may have. Our friendly and warm nurses are also happy to answer any questions you may have throughout your loved one’s care. You should never have to go through something like this alone, and when your loved one chooses hospice care, you don’t. 

Aside from helping families as they cope with the things their loved one is going through, our staff is also able to help with details like paperwork, wills, and funeral arrangements. Although these are hard topics, we are right there with you, every step of the way. 

Maybe you’re wondering why your loved one has chosen to cease their cancer treatments, or you want to know how you can support them in whatever comes next. If you would like to speak to our friendly staff about hospice care for patients with cancer, please feel welcome to reach out. We are here to help. 

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