Ann Scruggs, 79, beat cancer—twice. Then her nemesis returned in September, appearing first in the pancreas and quickly spreading. Her penetrating blue eyes and strong voice reflect the determination that allowed her to defeat cancer before. This time, she is equally determined to let the disease take its course.
“I thought I was done with [cancer],” she says, sitting in a chair next to her hospital bed and tethered to oxygen. “At first, I fought it. Then I decided, ‘This is not living.’ I knew where we were heading.
“I fought for more life at first because I wanted my grandkids to see that you don’t give up,” says Scruggs, her voice cracking with emotion. “But I very much believe in the Lord. I was able to find peace with this.”
Scruggs decided to forego chemotherapy and instead receive palliative care at Baylor Regional Medical Center of Plano.
The goal of palliative care is to relieve a patient’s disease symptoms, or to minimize a treatment’s side effects. Non-hospice palliative care is not dependent on a patient’s prognosis and can be in conjunction with traditional curative medical care. People in hospice, who no longer receive treatment to cure their illness, always receive palliative care during their final months of life.
Sometimes called “comfort care,” palliative care is an interdisciplinary approach designed to minimize pain and enhance quality of life for patients and their families. Caregivers provide spiritual and psychological—as well as medical—guidance. Palliative clinicians often help families and patients make difficult decisions about whether to use highly aggressive therapies and sort through treatment options. Those decisions are becoming more complex as medical technology continues to increase the number of choices.
Read the full story by Steve Jacob in D’s 2012 Collin County Medical Directory.