It’s a sensitive subject, but it’s also tremendously important. What is Palliative Care? It’s care offered to seriously-ill patients, helping them relieve their suffering and improving their quality of life. It’s not easy to see a loved one suffer, but I credit Palliative Care for making my mother’s last few weeks on this world just a little bit more bearable.
In June 2012, after doctors had exhausted all options in trying to cure my mother of her devastating cancer (she had endured three harsh years of chemotherapy), a wonderful physician called Hibah Osman approached us alongside her NGO, Balsam – a non-profit organization dedicated to offering the above-mentioned care and the best quality life possible. Balsam gave us the luxury of a choice: would our mother prefer to be transferred home, where she could be free of unnecessary medication and tests, and where she could live out her final days in familiar surroundings and with the love of her family 24/7? In addition, Balsam would help manage her painful symptoms and make her as comfortable as possible. It was surely a heartbreaking topic, but we knew we owed it to our beloved Naila to give her this choice. Sure enough, her decision was easy: yes she would MUCH prefer to live out her final days at home.
The transfer process itself was painless. Thanks to Balsam, we were able to acquire the proper hospital bed, not to mention the necessary equipment (an IV, syringes etc…). Mom’s transfer was surprisingly smooth, and she always had a Balsam nurse by her side for her every need. While it was certainly sad to see mom at home, it was undoubtedly the right decision. She got to return to her bedroom – an environment that would put her at ease – and she wouldn’t be constantly interrupted by doctors, nurses, and endless prodding and needling. To us as a family, Dr. Osman and her team provided unimaginable support and compassion, and we’ve forged life-long bonds as a result.
Ultimately, my mother was afforded the luxury of passing away in her home, surrounded by her loved ones. This is contrasted by the passing of my father a few years back, whose final days were in the hospital – a setting that was equally traumatic for us as well.
Again I say, Palliative Care IS a touchy subject, but it’s also an essential one. At one point down the line, we will all require this vital form of care. And so, it’s imperative that we become aware that it exists, that we realize that it’s an option as we integrate it into our healthcare system, and that we support selfless NGOs like Balsam which dedicate their entire being to making the scariest part of our lives just a little less scary.