Published on: October 29, 2021

Sunanda Samal, Regional Coordinator at Pallium India, writes:

In the year 1998, my youngest sibling was detected with liver cancer and that’s when the whole family was shocked and shattered.

It was a tough time for all of us, but for me it was even more painful as we had a very close bonding as siblings. I felt as if my life had come to a stand-still as this was my life’s greatest distress at that point of time.

In due course his treatment started at the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. I accompanied him and was there with him for around 25 days till he was discharged.

I still remember that day, when we reached the TM hospital and he asked me “Will I die soon, Didi?” I had no words to answer him but somehow I gathered courage to say “Don’t worry my dear, you will be alright soon” and that sentence of mine was enough to pacify him for that moment.

He wanted to spend more time with me and talk more to me as compared to other family members as I used to cheer him up always and give positive statements like “You will be fine soon and we all will go for a Mumbai Darshan trip and buy you your favorite clothing.” Listening to this, he used to give us a gentle smile which was truly precious for us.

Each day he kept asking similar questions to all family members around him. I could sense the fear of death within him, I could not get a restful sleep as I had lot of anxiety and didn’t know how to deal with his emotional outbursts.

Eventually he was operated on, followed by series of chemotherapy and radiation sessions.

He was going through lot of physical and emotional suffering and none of our family members including me had any idea about Palliative Care and its services but we did whatever best we could to keep him happy, like connecting him with his old friends, serving him his most favorite foods, allowing him to watch his favorite TV shows and listen to music etc.

Gradually his condition deteriorated and he went to coma stage, with bed sores adding to his pain.

That is when we all started praying that he should not live with this pain anymore as we were not able to see him in that condition.

It was an extremely painful environment at home that time and finally just few days later, in the year 2003 he passed away when he was just 29 years old, leaving us to miss him for rest of our lives!

Words can play a magical role in helping a person to get some relief from existing pain, hence positive statements and positive vibes should be spread all around even if we are aware that the end is very near.

So for me, the essence of Palliative Care is to be truly compassionate and empathize with the patient and the care givers.

Palliative Care is an umbrella under which curative care and symptom management as well as emotional support has to be offered with complete dedication.

Service to mankind is service to God, so we must not leave any chance to help people in need in whatever way possible.

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