Ease Symptoms and Side Effects
Many large hospitals have palliative care specialists on staff to work with you, Rizzo says. Your doctor can also refer you to therapists in your area. Some possible team members:
Oxygen therapists or nurses ease shortness of breath with supplemental oxygen tanks.
Nutritionists or dietitians keep your weight healthy so you can keep your strength and energy levels up. They’ll suggest foods that you’ll enjoy eating if your treatments make everything taste bad, if you have nausea, or if you’ve lost your appetite.
Pain specialists prescribe drugs to ease your pain.
Naturopathic doctors treat symptoms, side effects, or stress with natural therapies. They may use herbs and supplements and teach you meditation, exercises, or ways to relax. For example, they may give you zinc or ginger to help ease nausea from chemo.
Psychologists, counselors, wellness coaches, and social workers teach you how to manage stress and worry while keeping your spirits up. Your hospital may have patient care advocates who help you fill out medical forms or understand your care options. You can see a minister or other religious leader if you want, too.
Ease Your Worries
Palliative care can help you manage lung cancer’s effects on your life, too, Rizzo says.
You’ll handle your treatment better and have a brighter outlook and feel better during your treatment and beyond.
Caregivers also need support, he adds. “Palliative care specialists can be a sounding board or help you ask the doctor the right questions about treatment options.”
The goal is to help you stay active so you enjoy your life, Thompson says. Bring up any symptoms or fears with your doctor. She can make sure you can have treatments on hand in case a problem comes up.
Most of all, it gives you a positive view of your life beyond cancer. “Hope is very important. That may be hope for a cancer cure or hope that you can control your symptoms,” Thompson says. “Why treat my patients if I cannot make them feel better?”