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How to Build Your Own Palliative Care Team continued...

Be alert to other aspects of your physical and emotional health. If you become depressed, alert your doctor. Talking to a counselor can help, or your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.

Above all, insist on getting answers to your questions. “People suffering serious illnesses want information,” says Casarett. Indeed, when researchers from the Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York polled patients and family members about what was most important to them, “timely, clear, and compassionate communications” from doctors topped the list.

“Palliative care can’t take away all the distress that comes along with a diagnosis of cancer,” says Bruera. “But we can do a tremendous amount to alleviate unnecessary suffering.”

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