OPINION: Why we need to get palliative care right
THIS week, we were given an insight into some of the challenges in accessing palliative care as part of a ‘Dignified Dying’ feature (DM 10/10/19).
With an inquiry under way into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care and voluntary assisted dying in Queensland, the Daily Mercury shared Fiona Jacobs account of the “woeful” palliative care her mother received in Mackay during her last days.
After reading such a harrowing personal story, I began to think about my second-hand experience with the palliative system.
Last year my uncle was diagnosed with bowel cancer. After a few months battling the disease, he sadly passed away.
While many families go through the pain of losing family members to cancer, I am disturbed by what my uncle went through in his final days.
After receiving treatment, he was told his cancer was in remission.
It was great news, or so he thought.
During his rehabilitation, he began experiencing pain. It was then discovered that he was not in remission and his cancer had spread.
He died only a matter of weeks later.
Knowing that my uncle spent his last days in rehabilitation, preparing for the rest of his life that he would never have, honestly makes me angry.
Sometimes I think about how he must have felt in his final hours.
How he spent his last weeks in rehabilitation under false pretences he would have more time, when he could have spent that making the most of his last days.
The only comfort his story brings me is that, in his final weeks, he was receiving palliative care.
And I know for other people, knowing their loved ones are getting some relief from the symptoms, pain and mental stress of illness is the only comfort they get too.
I hope the inquiry into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care and voluntary assisted dying helps bring about some positive changes, because it is very important that we get it right.