Nearly 100 cancer survivors, caregivers and their families from across the state gathered in Madison today to urge lawmakers to improve the care and quality of life for patients with long-term illnesses.
The visit was part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s biennial Day at the Capitol. Throughout the day, advocates met with their lawmakers and asked them to cosponsor a bill to establish a state advisory committee on palliative care.
Palliative care is a specialized type of medical care that focuses on the individual needs of patients with serious illnesses like cancer. It provides patients and their caregivers an extra layer of support, making available a team of experts focused on relieving pain, managing emotional stress and other supportive services.
Kay Lock, of Fond du Lac, benefited from palliative care services when her son, Ian was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a rare bone cancer – at age 16. As a mother of four children with a full-time job, Lock struggled to balance Ian’s care while also being present for her other children and responsibilities. Thanks to palliative care services, the Lock family received an extra layer of support, and Ian is now doing well as a childhood cancer survivor.
“We are so grateful that the hospital that cared for Ian used palliative care,” Lock said. “Oncologists, nurses and surgeons focused on removing the tumor, as well as Ian’s cancer treatment, nausea and vomiting, and infection control. His pain team monitored his comfort level and side effects from chemotherapy. Our fear, anxiety and stress were managed by social workers, psychologists, nutritionists and home care professionals. That team-based approach allowed me to just be a mom to Ian and our other three children.”
The goal of the proposed advisory committee would be to improve the availability and delivery of palliative care. While it continues to grow in popularity across the country, palliative care is not always available to patients who need it. Additionally, many patients are not aware this type of care exists and may not know to ask for it, if it is not proactively offered.
"Palliative care is appropriate at any age and any stage of a disease like cancer, and it can be provided alongside curative treatment,” said Sara Sahli, Wisconsin government relations director for ACS CAN. “So many Wisconsin cancer patients could benefit from these services, but until we make them more available, we won’t fully see those positive outcomes. That’s why we’re asking our lawmakers to cosponsor this bill and help cancer patients get the extra support they need.”
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.