Mark Swidler, MD, is a palliative care specialist and director of outpatient palliative care at Smilow Cancer Hospital who takes care of patients with active cancer of any kind. Palliative care is a special form of whole person-directed medical care that focuses on reducing the severity of pain and other symptoms, and provides psycho-spiritual support for patients with a serious life-limiting illness.
“Palliative care is appropriate at any time during a person’s cancer experience,” Dr. Swidler says. “I see patients at the beginning or end of their cancer treatment and any time in between.”
Dr. Swidler works with a multidisciplinary team that includes specialists from nursing, social work, psychology, chaplaincy, art therapy, pharmacy, and integrative medicine, as well as home care managers who together provide an extra layer of support to the patient, family, and their oncology specialists.
A treatment plan may address symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, or loss of appetite. Palliative care psychological and spiritual resources can help patients and their families deal with stresses like depression, anxiety, disruption of life, and loss of meaning. Exploring what is important to patients, what they hope for and worry about in an empathic space helps them make the right choices for themselves, says Dr. Swidler.
“We work hard to create the best situation for patients so they can live as fully as possible each day,” Dr. Swidler says. “And help them find meaning and hope for the future.”
Smilow Cancer Hospital, Yale Medicine