Featured article

2015; Volume 16, No 3, March

Featured article

Best Poster Awards 2014

As in previous years, the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care was the proud sponsor of the Best Poster Award series of the International Palliative Care Network’s 2014 Conference. We are delighted to publish below contributions from this year’s first and second prizewinners.

Palliative care volunteer wins first prize

Aditya Manna is the winner of the 2014 International Palliative Care Network Conference’s Poster Competition. Mr Manna’s winning poster, ‘Telephonic Communication in Palliative Care for Better Management of Terminal Cancer Patients in Rural West Bengal – An NGO Based Approach’ explains how a telephone support project is helping patients in rural communities. Here, he tells us more about his life and work as a palliative care volunteer in a rural part of India.

Mr Aditya Manna

I was born in a village in west Bengal, India, about 135 km from Kolkata where sanitation and proper drinking water were unavailable. The village had no electricity, houses were of mud walls with thatched straw roofs and the only means of transport was to walk on ‘kachha’ muddy roads. In the rainy season the roads would be submerged and people would have to move about on banana stem rafts. Conditions have improved now but it is still not much different from when I was born – my village saw electricity only last year.

After finishing my school and college education with much difficulty I joined Tamralipta Health Home, a private nursing home in the nearby town of Tamluk. After five years, I joined MAS Clinic and Hospital in the same town, which now has small units for cancer, dialysis and intensive care, as well as other treatment facilities. At present I am working in the oncology unit of this hospital as a member of the palliative care staff. We also run a non-profit organization, Narikeldaha Prayas, of which I am the president.

Every morning I get up between three and five o’clock, and take a bike, bus or train to the home of a terminally ill patient who needs palliative care. This may include draining of pleural or ascitic fluid, feeding through a nasogastric (Ryle’s) tube, catheterization, intravenous fluids or dressing. Over the past seven or eight years I have made about 3,000 home visits to offer support to patients at any time of the day or night. Our centre also offers 24-hour telephone support to patients who are unable to reach our centre, which is the subject of my poster.

I would like to tell you about some of the sad things I have come across during my home visits. I have met patients who tried to end their lives by hanging or by taking an overdose of sedative medication. I saw a patient who cut his growing tumor with a kitchen knife. And I saw patients who were completely neglected by their family members and neighbors. These stories have inspired me to dedicate myself to do all I can through patient support, patient education, and by educating and motivating family members and neighbors through whatever means available.

I thank all the amazing, passionate and dedicated people I have met on my journey, particularly Prof. Dr. Shyamal Kumar Sarkar, Dr. Dipankar Bhattacharya and Dr. Lalit Kumar Khanra. They have all given their very precious time and knowledge generously and in doing so they have inspired me to continue and enhance my knowledge and practice of palliative care. I also express my gratitude to the IAHPC, for the Traveling Scholarship that allowed me to observe and interact with international experts working in palliative care at the Montreal Congress in 2014, and I am grateful to the judges of the International Palliative Care Network 2014 Conference for selecting my poster for first prize.

Aditya Manna, email: adityamanna101@yahoo.co.in
View the winning poster, Telephonic Communication in Palliative Care for Better Management of Terminal Cancer Patients in Rural West Bengal – An NGO Based Approach

Changing the paradigm to care for children with cancer

Celebrating Halloween with a young patient.
Karen (dressed as Wonder Woman) with
her patient and a resident physician.
(Picture: with kind permission of the patient’s family).

Karen S. Fernandez, M.D., Jim & Katie Owens Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, Illinois, USA, has an interest in pediatric patients affected with solid tumors, the population with the highest mortality among pediatric cancers, and a commitment to improving the quality of life of children with recurrent and progressive cancer. Dr Fernandez won second prize in the Best Poster Award; here she explains the background to her winning poster: ‘Implications of Early Palliative Care Consultation for Children with Solid Tumors’.

My interest in palliative care grew out of the need to help patients with cancer fight the battle for cure, or the fight to live plenty and fully towards the end when cure is not an option. In my work setting having a formal palliative care team has been challenging for reasons that are not strange to anybody. However, one of my work mottos is: “Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are.”

I am very fortunate to work with a highly motivated group of counselors and nurses that believe in helping patients to live to their fullest no matter what the circumstances are. We joined efforts and sought to help our patients and families to understand and cope with the news of cancer diagnosis and the consequences of receiving treatment or being cured (loss of function, quality of life changes, truncation of dreams and future expectations or limitation of the life span). Most importantly, we strived to help our patients find their inner strength to deal with what is ahead of them, to realign their hopes and to find the strength to fight for quality time while living and/or dying with cancer.

The poster ‘Implications of Early Palliative Care Consultation for Children with Solid Tumors’ summarizes two years of tireless work changing the paradigm in the approach of care for children with cancer at our institution. I am humbled and grateful to receive the second prize in the category of Best Poster Award. This award acknowledges the work and effort of the talented, dedicated and caring colleagues at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois that have tirelessly worked in pediatric palliative care. It is a true privilege to serve children with a new paradigm of cancer care. The work has been challenging; the gratification priceless, and the lessons learned boundless.

Dr. Karen S. Fernandez, email: kfernand@uicomp.uic.edu
View the poster ‘Implications of Early Palliative Care Consultation for Children with Solid Tumors’

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