Free Cancer Report

Healing Circle Talks with Dr Khurshid Mistry: Palliative Care

About the Healing Circle

Healing Circles at Love Heals Cancer and ZenOnco.io are sacred and open-minded spaces for cancer patients to share their emotions and experiences. Healing Circles are meant to bring a sense of calm and comfort amongst participants to feel much more accepted. The primary objective of these Healing Circles is to help care providers, survivors, and cancer patients become mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially stronger after, before, or while undergoing Cancer Treatment. Our sacred space aimed to bring about hopeful, thoughtful, and convenient processes of helping participants mitigate several healing obstacles. Our professional experts are dedicated to offering undivided guidance to cancer patients for safe and fast healing of the body, mind, spirit, and emotions.

About the Speaker

Dr Khurshid Mistry is an experienced doctor, having done her Masters in Cytogenetics from Tata Memorial Hospital and Doctorate in Molecular Biology. She is a trustee of the N. K. Dhabar Cancer Foundation and has been instrumental in the running of OnCare, a Cancer Wellness and Palliative Care Centre. She is an active participant in several cancer-related NGOs and was an active member of the Indian Cooperative Oncology Network (ICON).

Dr Mistry talks on how she realized the Importance of Palliative Care

My father was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 80, and that's when I properly realized the needs of a cancer patient. The mental aspects are mostly ignored, and when I was dealing with my father, I felt the lack of a place where he could go for pure healing and calmness. Understanding the lack of existing facilities prompted me to think about centres like OnCare. I found the right partners with the N.K Dhabar Cancer Foundation, where palliative care is an important and integral part of their mission, and they wanted to incorporate it. They graciously welcomed me when I approached them with the ideas for palliative care. When you take the Hippocratic oath, you are always told that you can cure the person sometimes, you can more often treat the person, but it is always possible to provide maximum comfort. Palliative care is a very misunderstood topic. Everybody feels that palliative care is the end of life care, but that is a myth. Palliative care is integrating different aspects of healing for patients. According to WHO, palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with a life-threatening illness. This is done through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification, impeccable assessment and treatment of Pain and other physical, psychological and spiritual problems. Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the presence of a disease or infirmity. Hence, palliative care should be a multidisciplinary care model and an early introduction in the entire trajectory of illness. It has to be holistic management, keeping in mind to correct the correctable.

The Physical, Psychological and Social Effects of Cancer

The common physical symptoms of cancer are pain, tumor-related bleeding, obstruction, GI obstruction, ureteric block, fatigue, anorexia, cachexia, breathlessness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, difficulty in passing urine, and lack of sleep all the time.

The common psychological distress are:-

  • Why did this happen?
  • What will happen to me?
  • Who will look after my family?
  • When will I be able to return home?
  • Will my last days and minutes be very painful?
  • Which of my family members will be with me when I die?

The common social issues are:-

  • Family collusion - not willing to break the bad news to the patient.
  • I do not have any more money for the treatment.
  • Who will pay for my family, future life, education, etc.?
  • Is cancer contagious?
  • Where can I go for my terminal care?

Dr Mistry shares about the Goals of Palliative Care

The goals of palliative care are:-

  • Provides relief from Pain and other distressing symptoms.
  • Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process.
  • Intend neither to hasten nor postpone death.
  • Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care.
  • Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death.
  • Offers a support system to help the family cope during the patient's illness and in their own bereavement.
  • Palliative care should be instituted early as a part of the interdisciplinary care.
  • Determine the cause of symptoms and the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.
  • Incorporate non-pharmacological and pharmacological measures.
  • Holistic management incorporating physical, psychological, social, and spiritual.

Facilities and Activities at OnCare

OnCare Facilities:-

  • Palliative care doctors
  • Counselors
  • Physiotherapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Nutritionists

OnCare Activities:-

  • Yoga
  • Art therapy
  • Music and movement therapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Nutritional support
  • Music and Karaoke
  • Group counseling
  • Group physiotherapy
  • Interaction with school children

The role of Complementary therapy within the Palliative Care framework

Complementary therapies are those which go with medical treatment. Further, if the patient wants to have holistic healing or any other form of therapies after the medical treatment is over, these therapies prevent and reduce the symptoms and side effects of the treatment. It also boosts the effectiveness of conventional treatment.

Importance of caring for caregivers

Taking breaks is essential on the caregiving journey. Caregivers should not feel guilty about taking care of themselves because they need to be healthy to take proper care of the patient.

When does stage 4 cancer patients decide to stop their medications and move towards palliative care?

It's not either-or; palliative care and medications should both be taken simultaneously. There will come a time when the oncologist will say that they have tried everything, and the Chemotherapy is causing more harm to the patient, so they don't advise to continue with Chemotherapy. That's the time when the patient can resort to palliative care only.

COVID-19 and Cancer Patients

In the COVID-19 pandemic period, cancer patients should not step out of their houses unless they have to go for their treatment or any urgent work because their immunity is very low and they have high chances of getting infected.

Dr Mistry shares some lessons she learned from her patients

My patients and my profession is my art of living. It's my patients and their experiences that teach me about life. I have learned to take life one day at a time and live it to the fullest. I see my patients being so brave in difficult times, and it has taught me not to complain too much about things and be happy and satisfied with whatever I have.