KAREN Taylor knows just how important palliative care can be.
The 43-year-old is battling advanced metastatic breast cancer, and has taken advantage of the palliative care support that is available through the Orange Health Service.
“Palliative care has actually been a part of my life since I was diagnosed [in June],” she said.
“For me it is very much about quality of life.
“The palliative care team is very involved in making sure my symptoms related to the disease and treatment are managed so I have the best life I possibly can.”
Ms Taylor shared her story as part of Palliative Care Week, which will run until May 28.
As part of the annual awareness week staff have set up a an information stall near the main entrance to Orange General Hospital for people who have queries about the palliative care services.
Clinical nurse specialist Louise Hoffman works in a team of three nurses who focus on palliative care.
She said this week was a great opportunity to promote palliative care without the stigma attached.
“Anyone who has had anything to do with palliative care will know it’s not all about doom and gloom,” she said.
“Research shows people who get to palliative care early live longer because we are treating their symptoms.”
Ms Hoffman works with clinical nurse specialists Rachael Carman and Ellen Warnock to form the palliative care team.
They deal mostly with cancer patients, followed by those with end-stage organ disease and end-stage neurological diseases.
Ms Taylor said it was important for her to engage with the team and establish a relationship in the earlier stages of her disease, to enhance the physical and emotional support she will receive when her health deteriorates in the future.
“If you’re a patient that has a health situation that can’t be cured, I would encourage everyone to talk to their palliative care team,” she said.
“It’s not only about the symptoms, but quality of life, today and when things deteriorate.
“Then you’ve got a really supportive team there.”