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Helping a Person with Lung Cancer Live Longer

Mr. Barnes was hospitalized with terrible pain. He was terrified that the opiates (narcotic medications) needed to control his pain would make him an addict. His brother had had a drug problem and he did not want to go the same route. The hospital’s pain specialist – a palliative medicine physician – was called in. After several conversations allowing Mr. Barnes to gradually and tentatively trust his medical team, he agreed to take appropriate medications to alleviate his discomfort.

During that hospital admission, Mr. Barnes was diagnosed with lung cancer. The palliative medicine physician was there to support Mr. Barnes throughout his illness. Excellent pain and symptom management, combined with emotional and social service support, enabled Mr. Barnes to survive 18 months past diagnosis, which is about double the average nine-month survival time. It also enabled him to stay home in his 4th floor public assistance walk up much longer than anyone predicted, thereby keeping his family intact and with him until his ultimate transfer to Calvary Hospital.

In short, Mr. Barnes lived longer, with better quality of life, and died quite peacefully surrounded by his family due to the involvement of the palliative care team from the beginning of his illness.