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Letter: Congress must increase access to palliative care

Congress must increase access to palliative care

As a cancer survivor, I’ve experienced firsthand how the mental and physical side effects of treatment can take a toll on one’s quality of life. After my cancer diagnosis, while my doctors worked to treat the cancer itself, I battled other concerns such as pain, anxiety, stress and other symptoms, all while maintaining a full-time job.

That’s where palliative care can help. It’s a growing field of specialized medicine that improves the quality of life of patients and their families by focusing on symptoms of treatment for a serious disease such as cancer. Palliative care is a big change in health care delivery, and it works in favor of the patient. I didn’t have that extra layer of care during my cancer journey, nor did my sister during hers, until Roswell Park took over her care. She now lives a more comfortable, active life and is able to enjoy the best quality of life throughout her cancer journey.

In September, I traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with staff for Rep. Chris Collins to urge him to co-sponsor a bill to increase education of and access to palliative care. Lawmakers must take this opportunity to increase access to palliative care so patients and their families have that extra layer of support when they need it most. On behalf of cancer survivors, I urge Collins to become a leader in this fight.

Kathy Williams

Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network