Metastatic pancreas cancer is a terminal illness, which implies that no treatment can cure it, but care can be given to pave the way for ‘good death.’ This essay discusses the position I would find myself in as a nurse while taking care of a patient with metastatic pancreas cancer, has about five months to live, and has accepted that reality. It also discusses the appropriateness of hospice care for the patient and the skills needed to assist the patient and the family in handling the situation. The fact that the patient has accepted the situation becomes a positive note to go about the remaining stage of life.
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Caring for a patient in much pain and the family members anxiously looking forward to pain relief would result in the feeling of sympathy but not helplessness. The feelings of misery would find residence in me in the sense that the family members are seeking the healing of their loved one through treatment even when it would not be forthcoming. I would be considering comfort measures and administration of medications that could relieve her of the pain. The idea of taking the patient through treatment to reverse some problems as held by some physicians and which the family members would be seeking would find resistance in my mind as an acceptable way of attending to the situation even if the idea appears decent. This is not proper especially when the patient is nearing death.
The level to which the ailment has reached requires hospice care as one of the last favors that can be offered to such a patient who is terminally ill. The care is aimed at meeting the emotional, bodily, spiritual, and social requirements while at the same time attending to the palliation of pain and symptoms of the ailment. The fact that the patient has about five months to live and is in pain may not necessarily mean that the patient should be left to suffer.
The pain is a distress both to the patient and the family at large. There is a need to ensure that the remaining time is peaceable and that the patient is at ease and can choose how to spend the time left when pain is alleviated. Hospice care could be administered at home so that the family members can know how to support and take care of the patient in the transition from life to death.
Under hospice care program, the patient has an opportunity to spend the last stage of life in a cherished manner and settle down any issues affecting the family. It offers an opportunity for finishing pending businesses and sharing positive experiences with the family members. This is meant to ensure death with dignity other than prolonging life by making it more uncomfortable through subjecting the patient to unnecessary and unsuccessful treatment.
To help the patient and family members experience ‘good death,’ the nursing skills needed can be classified into two areas. The first area involves skills on how to handle any symptoms that the patient encounters in the course of the advancement of the ailment; these include pain, weakness, vomiting, or constipation. The skills ensure that care is given as per the need of the patient at any moment. The other area entails the skills required to deal with difficult sensational, spiritual, and interpersonal issues affecting the patient. Such skills are meant to support and inspire one to have honor and dignity while facing death and precisely in the manner in which one chooses.
It is worth noting that as much as metastatic pancreas cancer is a terminal ailment, the eventuality of it, which is death, can become acceptable by a patient and the family at large. Providing hospice care seeks to meet the needs of the patient and assists the family in supporting the terminally ill loved one at home. Being with loved ones while under such care makes the final stage of life peaceable and comfortable.