Cancer Support Group

Saturday, May 15th

Last update:06:42:40 AM GMT


Home based care for terminally ill cancer patients
Satseva – Reaching out to the patients
Death is an imminent reality for all of us. But when it comes disguised as Cancer, death can be rude, painful and torturous. Often such patients find it hard to deal with the difficulties cancer puts them through. Unbearable pain, nausea and depression take over completely and often there are no alternatives.

Doctors give up on the patient when the cancer becomes untreatable. Says Namrata Chang whose mother died of breast cancer last year, “Doctors do their best till such time they feel that the patient has a fighting chance. But when my mother’s cancer spread to the bones and the chemotherapy was of no use, the doctors had no idea what to do with her. They did not know how to deal with the pain she felt. They tried their best, but I guess they have other patients to think of”.

But this is exactly when patients need help. Satseva a NGO, set up five years ago, has helped several cancer patients die in peace. Though there is a hospice in the city that looks after the terminally ill, home based care does pretty much the same thing except that the patient can live his last moments in his home with his loved ones instead of health care providers in a clinical hospital.

Says Dr Madhuri who visits the patients in their homes, “Death may not be so frightening if one could do away with the pain. The two main factors in caring for such patients is pain management and moral support. As the cancer progresses different symptoms keep coming up”

“For example in cancer of the cervix, there may be sudden bleeding, urine retention and if the family is unaware of all this then it can be extremely frightening. But when you tell them what to expect as the cancer progresses, they become more confident of dealing with it”.

Apart from the symptoms that keep cropping up, there is a tremendous amount of pain and discomfort that the terminally ill face. For that Dr. Madhuri visits the patients’ homes regularly and if needed, on a daily basis. Says she, “Cancers of the bone and nerves are most painful. Initially we treat the pain with analgesics but as the pain increases we even use morphine to give relief to the patient”. The doctors visit the patients who are incapable of injecting themselves in an effort to ease the pain, daily.

Dying involves not just physical pain, but a deeper pain that operates at the emotional level. says Madhuri, “Religious beliefs help a lot. If the family is deeply religious and I mean a belief and not just ritualistic, the process of death becomes easy. This is because religion helps you accept death as a natural outcome of life and helps the family members to stay calm”.

“I had a patient who was deeply involved in the ISKCON movement, her husband and other members accepted the last stages of her ovarian cancer very peacefully. They’d pray regularly and there was no panic. But on the other hand if a person has no religious beliefs then accepting death is very painful. Such people run from pillar to post trying to find a solution. And then when death actually happens they are the ones who are hit the hardest”.

For the family members who are with their loved ones every minute, SATSEVA offers counseling and advice on how to care for the patient. “Family members obviously feel hurt at seeing their loved one in pain. By telling them what to expect, how to care and helping them make the end painless, they feel they are doing their bit to help the patient. It does hurt and we can help by listening to them”.

As of now Satseva has 30 such patients in their home based care program. The treatment is totally free and anyone who is terminally ill with cancer, can avail of this service. Satseva can be contacted at:
Telephone: +91 20 26342861
Telephone: +91 20 26341808
Telephone: +91 20 26341799
Telephone: +91 20 26356820
Telephone: +91 20 26357072.


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