There are few experiences in life that are quite as universal and heartbreaking as watching a loved one slip away. It’s an experience everyone will go through eventually, and the mental & emotional impact it leaves can be enormous. Palliative care serves to alleviate the pain and suffering of the patient in their last days, allowing everyone to focus on the most important matter at hand – saying goodbye. ⁣

Read on to hear Melisa’s story of her time as a caregiver for her grandmother, and find out how palliative care helped her in her journey. ⁣

Interview with Melisa

Tell us your story. How did your role as a caregiver begin?

My grandmother whom I loved very much was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, at the age of 83. The doctor gave her 8 months left. I was devastated. After discussing it with her, she told me she didn’t want to do any treatment as she felt she didn’t want to go through something which would compromise her quality of life and she has lived a Long life already. Reluctantly I respected her decision and told her I would be there for her all the way through. That’s how I started on my caregiving journey.

What were some of the challenges you went through during your journey?

Caregiving encompasses so many aspects of one’s life. It’s not just about the physical and medical care, it’s also about the psychological and spiritual needs. Having to come to terms with losing your loved one is tough. But the needs of my grandmother helped me to overcome my fears. I had to learn to give her injections, bathe her and attend to her every need. Watching her deteriorate was torturing. The time spent caring for her helped me to come to terms with losing her. Lucky for me, I had very supportive family members and I could stop work and cared for my grandmother full time.

How did palliative care affect your experience as a caregiver?

HCA came along and helped me to care for my grandmother. They were a great help! I had a wonderful palliative doctor who really cared for not just my grandmother but even me and my family members. She patiently taught me how to monitor and handle the needs of my grandmother. When the pain increased, she was always around to guide me n assure me I was doing the right thing. The palliative team gave me the confidence to really give the best care I could give to my grandmother. I watched and learned how they handled my grandmother’s needs and it really allowed be to develop new skills to be a better caregiver.

What is your message for those out there who are currently going through the palliative care journey?

Do not be afraid. Do not give up. You are not alone. There are many palliative organisations that can give us the support we need. Treasure all the time left. Talk and share about wishes and what is to come so plans can be set in motion. It will make things easier for everyone. Take lots of pictures and videos. These will become precious memories that we can treasure.