Palliative Care

Why Palliative Care ?

Palliative care is a relatively unsung and underfunded branch of medicine. Yet if you are unlucky enough to need it, it can be all that stands between you and excruciating, debilitating pain. This is something that affects far more people than cancer sufferers – just ask anyone with severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, ms or many other degenerative conditions.

It’s a commonly held view that if you’re in a lot of pain then an injection or pill can take it all away. For a lot of people this may be true, but a significant minority are not so lucky. Pain is an extremely complicated phenomenon which can be very difficult to diagnose and remedy. Debora’s was a good case in point. She suffered terrible pains in her left calf and especially her knee, but in fact her tumour was nowhere near there. It was actually in her pelvis. As it grew, it pressed on her sciatic nerve which responded by firing off pain messages appearing to come from her whole leg. So how do you start treating that? Even diagnosing what pain it is you’re actually trying to alleviate can be difficult. When you’ve managed that the problems aren’t over. Many drugs have unpleasant side-effects, and lose their effectiveness as the patient develops tolerance to them. The term “side-effects” covers a multitude of things too – some trivial, some not. At the end of her life Debora was on an epidural anaesthetic, and was paralysed from the waist down. You cannot imagine what pain it was that made complete immobility a better option. I wish nobody ever had to find out, but for many people there is a trade-off to be made between freedom from pain and quality of life.

We’d like to make all this a thing of the past. We’re not idealistic enough to think we can do this overnight, or by ourselves, but we aim to make a contribution. All we ask is for you to do the same. The money we raise will go towards setting up a research fellowship at The Royal Marsden Hospital to advance the diagnosis and treatment of cancer pain. If we can help just a little bit to relieve the suffering of people in this condition then we will have achieved something really worthwhile.

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