My first experience with palliative care was in medical school. The team had been asked to consult on a woman in her 50s who had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and carcinomatosis. The reason for the consult was to clarify goals of care and the attending started the conversation when her husband interrupted. He said to her, “how much time? Everyone keeps coming in here, but no one is telling me about time.” The attending calmly said that with her type of cancer and the complications that it was usually about six months. At that point, the patient turned to her husband who had dropped his head in tears and she said to him, “But don’t you worry. I’m going to love you long after that.”
It was then that I realized what an amazing specialty of medicine this is and that to be part of these patients’ lives and their stories is such a great honor. It just made so much sense to me to do a fellowship. I feel like a scribe to their stories and if there is something I can do to make their journey more peaceful, to make their lives less painful, to have the honor of being there in the most vulnerable times, and to give them whatever dignity possible, then let it be so.
Since starting this fellowship, I continue to be amazed by the patients and their families. It is a living classroom and I am so thankful for this opportunity to learn from them. Additionally, I feel so blessed to be able to work with such a wonderful group of providers who are also enriching my educational experience. At all levels, each person has a role, but all work as a team to ensure the patients receive the best care. They do this quietly and without looking for recognition of their excellent work. They do this as if it were natural skill, when after being exposed to other medical environments, I have learned it is not. It takes special people to do what the folks here at Transitions LifeCare do and I can only offer my humble thanks to them to allow me to be a part of it.
-Megan d., fellow