LIFE Before Death #9: Cancer Pain

2011 July 15
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Short Film 8 of 50 in the LIFE Before Death documentary series about the global crisis in untreated pain and the dramatic life changing affect palliative care services can deliver to patients and their families around the world.

In “Cancer Pain” we discover that cancer is the most feared disease and the problem of cancer pain is an escalating problem worldwide.

“Studies in a number of countries have shown when you ask people what disease worries them most if they thought they had it, cancer is streets ahead of anything else,” reports Professor David Hill (Australia).

Over 12 million people are likely to be diagnosed with cancer this year alone and 7 million will die of the disease. Cancer kills more people than AIDS and tuberculosis combined.

“There are at least 5 million people who die of cancer each year with untreated pain,” states Dr Kathleen Foley (USA). “We think this is an underestimate of pain in the world because there are 12 million survivors of cancer, people living with cancer, and we know about a third of them experience pain.”

Dr Eva Rossina Duarte Juarez (Guatemala) agrees that cancer is indeed painful. “In the situation of advanced illnesses, people need to be able to die in peace.”

Breast cancer patient Carmen (Australia) reflects that she doesn’t fear death however she did fear the essential medications designed to treat her cancer pain. “I had a lot of pain on every level, whether it was physical or emotional.”

Dr Mark Boughey (Australia) of Caritas Christi Hospice in Melbourne explains, “When Carmen got here pain was the big issue… She had that really problematic neuropathic pain so you couldn’t even touch her skin without her screaming and being distressed.”

“This problem is very much with us, it’s a global problem, but also there are things we can do to bring the escalating problem of cancer under control,” Professor David Hill.

Carmen reflects that professional treatment of her pain brought back her sanity and quality of life. “I’m very blessed to have had this opportunity … I’ve had really good care.”

Featuring Professor David Hill (Australia), Dr Kathleen Foley (USA), Dr Eva Rossina Duarte Juarez (Guatemala), Dr Mark Boughey (Australia), Carmen (Australia).

If you’ve missed previous episodes, catch up on the┬áLIFE Before Death website…

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