“What is cancer?”
“Something you can die from,” an adolescent in remission once told me.
He later described his treatment to me, saying, “if it weren’t for the treatment, I would’ve been….” His voice trailed off as he swiped a finger across his neck and made a krrr sound. “It’s true,” he concluded, nodding.
This teen, in this moment, chose to express himself outside of words. He had been comfortable defining cancer explicitly in relation to “death” before, so why did his words falter now? I remember being taken aback by this symbolic beheading, an action fraught with connotations of cancer as both violent but also punitive. I wondered how many other children associated cancer with death, how many felt as though they were receiving a death sentence when diagnosed.
by Sue McKechnie, CKN Childhood Cancer Co-editor, Bereaved Parent
It’s a decision that you never thought you would have to make. A decision that most people cannot imagine. The unfortunate reality of childhood cancer is that not all children will survive.
When we were told there was no treatment options left for Shawn and that the tumour in his brain would eventually take his life, we were faced with the decision of whether he would spend his last days in the hospital, in a hospice centre or at home.
I recently came across a paper written by Dr. Jessica Zitter in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, where she proposes creating a new society, the American Society for Patient Centered Physicians (ASPCP). “Its purpose would be to bring together physicians of all specialties whose treatment philosophy prioritizes patient-specific rather than specialty-specific approaches.”
I thought the idea was brilliant and wanted to share it with our CKN readers, here’s a link: The American Society for Patient-Centered Physicians. Dr. Zitter also gave me the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her thoughts on the potential benefits of integrating palliative care education into mainstream medical training. Please take a look and share/comment. – Karen Irwin, CKN Project Coordinator
A woman with newly-diagnosed colon cancer recalls being alone in her hospital room. She is scared about a pending surgery and uncertain about life after treatment. She is angry. And she is struggling with the question, “Why me?” She remains silent, reluctant to reveal any of her emotions and spiritual distress to her loved ones … to burden them.
This is the very type of situation in which a professional chaplain can help. Supporting individuals regardless of religion or beliefs, or no religion or beliefs, multi-faith professional chaplains are trained to listen, to be nonjudgmental, to tap into a person’s inner strengths, and to provide comfort and meaning. They help patients and their families navigate serious or life-threatening illness, end of life, and grief.
Recently, Interfaith Impact of NY, a state wide coalition of congregations and individuals, whose mission is to work for the common good, held a panel discussion regarding Aid-in-Dying.
Panelists included: Corinne Carey, NY Director of Compassion & Choices, Timothy Quill, MD, Director of Palliative Care within the Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester at Strong Hospital, Diane Coleman, President & CEO of Not Dead Yet – a national disability rights group and James Hanson, President of Patients Rights Action Fund.
These are my personal comments on the panel discussion.
by Jennifer M.L. Stephens, RN, MA, PhD(c), RN, OCN
The workshop on physician-assisted suicide (PAD) at the October 2015 Canadian Association of Oncology Nurses (CANO/ACIO) drew enough oncology nurses to fill the room far beyond capacity. Following the 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter v. Canada to allow PAD, professional nursing organizations including CANO/ACIO, the Canadian Nursing Association (CNA), provincial licensing bodies, and health care employers are scrambling to interpret what PAD means to Canadian nursing and nurses.