Before the Tennessee General Assembly ended its 2017 legislative session, lawmakers left a gift for cancer patients and survivors in the state.
Both the House and Senate passed legislation to establish a state task force on palliative care and quality of life for cancer patients in treatment.
While most people know about palliative care from an end-of-life perspective, the truth is palliative care can provide better quality of life for cancer patients by relieving the pain, stress and other symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment, and coordinate care among the many professionals who may be involved in a patient’s overall care, including oncologists, surgeons, mental health professionals, social workers, and others.
Palliative care also benefits patients with other chronic and catastrophic illnesses, as well as family members.
Lynn Williams, Tennessee government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), released the following statement after the Tennessee Senate passed this important legislation:
“On behalf of the more than 37,080 estimated Tennesseans who will hear the words “you have cancer” this year, I applaud our state legislators for supporting this crucial palliative care bill.
“Their decision is the first step in improving quality of life for cancer patients and others battling chronic diseases by increasing awareness of palliative care, one of the fastest growing trends in health care.
“Palliative care treats the whole person, not just their disease, by giving patients more control and helping to take away some of the pain, fear and anxiety they may feel after diagnosis, and during treatment and recovery.
“Palliative care also works to improve the lives of cancer patients by making coordination of care standard protocol during their treatment and is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care can actually lead to a longer, more satisfying life for cancer patients and those with other major health conditions.”
To learn more about ACS CAN’s legislative activities in Tennessee, and to follow progress on the implementation of the palliative care task force, visit https://www.acscan.org/states/tennessee.