Benefiting from Palliative Care: a personal story

August 22, 2018

Across New Mexico, ACS CAN ambassadors are sharing their stories with lawmakers on key legislative issues. Today we share aNM Ambassador Judy Towers Shares Her Palliative Care Story story about personally benefiting from palliative care by Judy Towers, an ambassador living in Santa Fe.

"I am a 5-year survivor of head and neck cancer, specifically, the right vallecula- a part of the throat anatomy. I live by myself and my treatment was aggressive, so a palliative care team was brought in to help with my daily activities  (I have pets and a huge yard) and to treat the whole body as well as the cancer. The all-volunteer team was led by a palliative care nurse named Janet,  who visited me at least once a week to discuss nutrition and other forms of wellness and accompany me to all doctor visits. A team was put in place to get me to my radiation treatments (I had concurrent chemo-radiation), and the nurses accompanied me to chemo treatment.  Over the year I was a patient of Janet’s, I learned about different types of alternative treatments like acupuncture and at some point, they offered a monthly massage, which all patients liked as it helps you forget for a while and relaxes a tired/stressed body.

I received palliative care when it was in the infant stages in Santa Fe, but if I had not had it and the support, I am not sure how things would have turned out—it was a great addition to a very hectic time in my life. Palliative care, in my mind, is a very integral part of cancer treatment (or any life-threatening disease).

I have had the honor of sharing my personal story of receiving palliative care while in cancer treatment with my lawmaker, Congressman Ben Ray Luján and his staff. I am so grateful for his support of the Palliative Care Hospice and Education Training Act, which he co-sponsored several times."