Some health issues are so serious that treating your condition or illness alone is not enough – comfort and quality of life may be just as important as a cure.
For Marlene Stevenson, 82, of Miles City, palliative care has been instrumental in creating an overall higher quality of life for her for the past two months. A combination of several different health issues, such as lung cancer, shortness of breath, and a sprain in her knee has left Stevenson confined to her home for most days of the week. But, she has found that with a little help, she can continue living life to the fullest.
Palliative care is a medical specialty focused on treating discomfort, stress and symptoms associated with serious illnesses, particularly chronic or life-limiting ones. Patients may find palliative care beneficial if their symptoms or diagnosis feels overwhelming for them or their family. This care can be delivered in addition to other treatments designed to help get better, or it may be considered when such treatments are no longer desired or effective.
Common conditions that can benefit from palliative care include: cancer, kidney failure, liver failure, lung disease, dementia, heart disease and cystic fibrosis.
Because of the service and treatment options that Holy Rosary Healthcare offers for its patients, Stevenson is able to meet with Shannon Dowse and Mary Weimer, a Registered Nurse and Nurse Practitioner, respectively. Together, their team has arranged a program that allows the patient to receive pain, symptom and medication management. This means special attention is given to anticipating, preventing and managing physical discomfort and helping Stevenson plan for the future.
Living with a chronic illness comes with special circumstances and challenges, so Dowse and Weimer have made it a priority to help Stevenson and her family understand Marlene’s illnesses and develop a personalized treatment plan that allows her to live as actively as possible.
“They always put me at ease,” Marlene mentioned. “They go over all of my medical issues, address them, and ask if I have any questions.”
Marlene Stevenson is a very well known name in the Miles City community and throughout eastern Montana. Because of her twelve years of service at Holy Rosary Healthcare on the spiritual care team, her caring spirit towards her family and friends, and her commitment to her family’s business, she is a matriarch of the Stevenson family, who owns Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home and serves Miles City, Forsyth, Lame Deer, Broadus, Circle, Jordan and Terry areas.
For her whole life, Marlene has put others before her and has helped many through difficult times. Now, the caregivers at Holy Rosary feel honored to be able to provide the same level of care to someone that has been a blessing to so many lives.
“It is a privilege to be able to help patients who may have a hard time making decisions on their own and to give back to Marlene because she has done so much for Holy Rosary and our community,” said Mary Weimer.
In addition to helping Stevenson manage discomfort, stress and other difficulties associated with her illnesses, the palliative care team has also tailored a plan to help her stay active and live a healthy lifestyle. But, most importantly, they have helped her understand that she has assistive care available whenever she needs it.
“Our patients have a sense of security and relief in knowing that they have someone to call when they need assistance, said Shannon Dowse. “Our team takes pride in knowing that we can provide such an important service to eastern Montana and help our patients stay connected with their families.”
Palliative care is a highly personal decision based on your symptoms, the severity of your illness and your wishes and preferences. If you feel palliative care may be right for you, have a conversation with your family and your doctor. Ask your primary care provider to refer you for a palliative care consultation.
To learn more about this service, visit hrh-mt.org/palliativecare