Taken from my hospital room on a good day
I’ve been in hospital for the last three weeks, and have just returned back home (finally!). It has been both a very difficult physical experience dealing with pain management and a wound, but also a mental journey for me.
A lot of what I read about palliative care, and my own experiences as well, have been about control; the control that palliation gives you over the time you, as an individual, have left, rather than the often more passive involvement of care when engaging in active treatment.
Throughout my treatment, I’ve been eager – possibly to my own mental and emotional detriment – to remain highly active with what has been going on. I make guesses as to what might be causing pain or discomfort or other symptoms, explaining to my doctor what it must mean as he compassionately and respectfully listens to my ideas that I’ve gotten from my half-hearted reading of an abstract from a medical journal. Continue reading
Tell us about yourself . What are you doing in Australia?
Hello, my name is Giovanni Galvis. I was born in Caracas-Venezuela. I studied Medicine in Bogota-Colombia. After my graduation I decided to go to Europe. I have always been fascinated with the history and architecture and of course the good level in research and clinical medicine there. I spent some time in Germany but in 2007 I moved to Sweden where I did research in the beginning and then started my specialty in Clinical Oncology. I am doing a placement at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre attending the department of Pain and Palliative Care, the breast clinic and the melanoma clinic.
What is your impression of palliative care and cancer care in Australia? Is it different from that in Sweden? How? Continue reading
Tell us about your job.
I am the program manager for the Palliative Care Research Network Victoria (PCRNV).
What does PCRNV do?
We try to gain funding to conduct clinical and community intervention research. The PCRNV also provides an opportunity to network and collaborate with other palliative care researchers through PCRNV forums and workshops.
We also help with access to a variety of PCRNV funding schemes including; PhD scholarship, small project and travel grants. There can be support with developing your research idea into a potential project and grant proposals via the PCRNV Concept Development Workshops and also mentoring.
But, it’s not right to do research on people who are dying, is it?
The first time one of my medical professionals touched me for comfort rather than during a physical exam, it was during my liver biopsy. I was extremely frightened of the procedure, due to how painful I’d been warned the procedure was, and I was, and still am, slightly uncomfortable with needles (though daily Clexane shots sure sorts that out fast). The medical team at the imaging clinic I attended had gotten in a second nurse, just to hold my hand during the procedure. It was her 60th birthday, and she had been called in, literally, just to hold my hand. I was incredibly moved by this, and incredibly comforted to have someone gently talk me through what was going on – to warn me to look away when the giant liver biopsy needle was brought out, helping me count holding my breath as the needle drew up the cancerous cells, and gently walking me to the recovery room after the procedure finished. It was one of the kindest things I have experienced with my medical professionals – and I have experienced more kindness than I can even recognise. Continue reading
Palliverse welcomes a new contributor today. Elizabeth Caplice is an archivist on hiatus. She has Stage IV colorectal cancer, and writes about cancer, and how it intersects with life, particularly in younger adults. Elizabeth has shared a recent photo, to show that “stage IV cancer looks far broader than just some elderly hands with a cannula in them.” (Try doing a Google image search for “palliative care”.)
We recommend Elizabeth’s excellent blog Sky Between Branches and her Twitter feed. As always please leave responses in the “Comments” box below.
Today, I saw my oncologist, and got dealt more bad news. Stage IV cancer life is mostly bad news, and you come to expect it. The cancer has spread, again, after only two weeks off chemotherapy – which I needed to take due to my blood count consistently dropping to dangerous levels. He gently told me that if it was in my bones now, it wouldn’t be shocking, because I was diagnosed with Stage IV rectal cancer a year and a half ago. I have done remarkably well. Continue reading