For those patients whose cancer progresses to Stage IV, and who could be facing a poor prognosis, it is important to consider available options. Palliative care cover for members with advanced cancer can make all the difference at this time.
This means maintaining hope while also asking all necessary questions of your doctor and making sure they’re answered honestly and at a level of detail with which you are comfortable. If you haven’t done so already, it is time to take full accountability for your wellbeing and quality of life. Ensure your paperwork is in order, make your wishes known, and, ideally, write a living will or issue an Advance Directive.
Advance Directives are written, legal instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. They guide choices made by doctors and caregivers if you're terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life.
This is the time to use your willpower, fortitude and wisdom to make the right choices - for yourself and your loved ones.
Listen to our podcast on Palliative Care for Cancer – a valuable form of care, ensuring quality of life from diagnosis to end-of-life care for every patient, here.
Together with the guidance of medical experts, you can decide the way forward.
Here are some of the questions you may want to discuss:
- What will the likely impact of any additional doses of chemotherapy be?
- Will the side effects outweigh the gains in longevity?
- What about the impact on your quality of life?
- Does one brave another six months of chemotherapy and side-effects, in return for six more months of life? What if the treatment buys two more years of life?
- If the cancer has spread to one’s bones and there is a danger of fractures or experiencing terrible pain, should one go for more radiation? What if the radiation has a positive effect?
Remember that this process aims to ensure you are able to have an honest and forthright discussion with your doctor.
Discovery Health Medical Scheme offers a unique and comprehensive basket of palliative care, (once curative treatment has been stopped and you have been enrolled on the Advanced Illness Benefit (AIB), and once clinical and benefit entry criteria have been met).
Although members always have the option of being admitted to hospital, data shows that, to date, more than 60% of Discovery Health Medical Scheme members enrolled on the AIB programme choose to be cared for at home or in a Hospice facility.
Members enrolled on the AIB are assisted by a dedicated Care Co-ordinator who will support you and your family, to ensure holistic palliative care and seamless logistics. The AIB will cover certain costs relating to the professional services of the palliative multi-disciplinary team, including home visits by a primary responsible palliative care doctor, and psycho-social care. The benefits offered are in accordance with a basket of benefits which has been developed in consultation with the Hospice Palliative Care Association.
Ellen Goodman - The Conversation Project
More about the Advanced Illness Benefit
The Advanced Illness Benefit (AIB), provides members with advanced stages of cancer access to comprehensive palliative care that offers quality care in the comfort of their own home, with minimum disruption to normal routines and family life. Palliative care is provided by trained doctors, nurses or care workers in partnership with the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa. Enrolled patients have access to this service through the Advanced Illness Benefit. For more information on the Advanced Illness Benefit, visit www.discovery.co.za, email AIB@discovery.co.za or call 0860 99 88 77.
The Discovery Health Medical Scheme is an independent non-profit entity governed by the Medical Schemes Act, and regulated by the Council for Medical Schemes. It is administered by a separate company, Discovery Health (Pty) Ltd, an authorised financial services provider.
Palliative care forms a regular part of every advanced cancer patient’s journey, and will help you to not only better cope with and manage all of your symptoms but will enable you to live as actively as possible too.
After 16 years of working for Discovery Health in various clinical positions, Ineke Gietzman’s found her calling in palliative patient care as a Care Coordinator on the Advanced Illness Benefit (AIB) Programme.
It's normal for every cancer patient to think about the possibility of death throughout their cancer journey. Yet, being told that your cancer is no longer treatable thrusts you into a brand new reality, which can be extremely difficult to come to terms with.