Some who need pain relief cannot get it

I am a Stage 4 Liver Carcinoid Cancer patient currently on treatment and on remission. I also have some very painful lower back issues. In my quest to find help for the pain, I was turned down on every level. Therefore, I have spent some very painful days with my back and discomfort from my cancer treatment. I have literally begged for palliative care and no one listened because they believe I don’t know what I am talking about and they probably think I am a drug seeker. I am not – I just want to improve the quality of my life.

There is a misnomer in this area about what palliative care really is.

Palliative care vs. hospice – defining palliative.

Unlike hospice, palliative care can be performed for non-terminal patients. It is in fact to help people live longer, happier lives.

As mentioned above, palliative care is included within hospice care to keep hospice patients comfortable. However, for non-terminal patients, palliative care is about managing the symptoms and side-effects of life-limiting chronic illness. Therefore, you can receive palliative care at the same time you receive treatment meant to cure your illness.

Consider illnesses like heart disease, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, and the side-effects of chemotherapy. Palliative care, also performed in a patient’s preferred location, looks to make these conditions as manageable as possible so they don’t interfere with the patient’s lives.

Someone can receive palliative care at any stage of an illness (EVEN from diagnosis) whereas hospice care is only appropriate at an end-of-life stage.

This definition should help doctors and nurses understand what I am asking for and not degrade me as an individual because I am in the “palliative care” stage.

I very well know what is going on here in the Valley with drug abusers. I interpret this whole issue as people who abuse so that others who need the care can’t receive it. Something has to be done, and there is currently a Palliative Care Bill under consideration in Ohio. I know this because I presented the revised bill to a Senator and a Representative in Columbus in May at the Capitol Building in Columbus in their offices. At the time, I was representing the American Cancer Association Cancer Action Network. My health has deteriorated and I no longer work with them, but at the time of the presentation, I was very well-versed on this bill. Many other states have already voted it into law and are working cooperatively to provide training and set up clinics to help those of us who need it. Just because Ohio legislators haven’t voted it in yet doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t exist on some level. However, I truly believe lawmakers are under pressure to bring this service to Ohio because it is so important to sick people due to the drug problem here.


A key phrase in the Hippocratic Oath is “First, do no harm. . . . .” Not only can that phrase be used in justifying overdose deaths – it can also be interpreted as the harm that is being done to Ohioans by not providing necessary and long overdue comfort care.

Please, please make yourselves familiar with this bill and what it calls for. I don’t plan on being in pain for the rest of my life, and I know I am not alone in feeling this way.

Pamela Wise Miller



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