At the age of 82, Anne*, a lifelong Grafton resident and retired registered nurse, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Her oncologist recommended cancer treatments; Anne complied. The treatments left her more uncomfortable than she wanted. So she decided to stop.
“My mom’s a tough bird,” said her daughter, Kathy. “She’s always been headstrong; she’s always been confident she could make things work out no matter the circumstance.
New plan, new way
One of Anne’s physicians referred her to William Matthaeus, MD, a palliative care specialist with Aurora Health Care. “My mother no longer wanted active treatment and didn’t know if palliative care was the next step,” Kathy said. “Dr. Matthaeus worked with us closely on the next steps that would help my mom maintain her quality of life.”
It turned out that palliative care was just what the family needed. Palliative care manages the needs and goals of those living with chronic or serious illnesses at the time of diagnosis. By providing an added layer of support based on the understanding of the patient as a whole – not a disease or a symptom – the palliative care team helps patients and their family achieve their very best quality of life every day in a patient centric, family engaged care plan.
And it’s an important – and ongoing – conversation. Kathy and Anne see Dr. Matthaeus about every four weeks to talk about Anne’s medications, anxiety and pain.
“As a retired RN, my mom knows what great care is,” Kathy said. “She feels fortunate to have such a compassionate doctor caring for her.”
Why palliative care is important
“I think we as physicians are very good at tackling health issues, and helping patients live well,” Dr. Matthaeus said. “But ‘live well’ could mean something different to every patient.”
That’s why palliative care is a key point in the care continuum for those with chronic health challenges. While a course of treatment may mitigate a condition, it may not match a patient’s particular goals. And that can interfere with quality of life.
“The patient’s goals are at the center of what we do because the patient, like Anne, is at the center of what we do,” Dr. Matthaeus continued.
Kathy agreed that this approach made an enormous difference in the family’s life. “My siblings and I share the responsibility for taking care of my mom,” she said. But Dr. Matthaeus is my lifeline.”
How you can help patients like Anne get the care they need
When you attend Live Well Ozaukee on Aug. 25, you help benefit palliative care initiatives, making it more available to patients in the community who want to explore all their care options. Learn more, purchase tickets and donate when you CLICK HERE.
*Last name and photo excluded for privacy.