Posts made in July, 2012

‘I’m No Longer Afraid’ – Palliative Care Patient Story

She was an ombudsman for Santa Cruz County when Mary Ellen Hannah first heard of PAMF’s Palliative Care Program, and she was hopeful that it would help many in her community. She never thought that she herself would be a recipient of the services.

Today, she is grateful for the coping skills and new perspectives she gained from working with the program’s staff as a patient. “You have a choice in every thing that you do and I like that,” Hannah says in this poignant video. “I like having choices and being responsible for my life – and even for my death. They gave me the skills to make those choices. I stopped crying and feeling sorry for myself, because I was no longer at the mercy of life or death – I had choices.”

Palliative Care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from pain, symptoms and stress of a serious illness, whatever the diagnosis. Palliative Care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. This specialized medical service is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment. It can be offered in a clinical setting or provided at a patient’s home.

Headed up by Sharon Tapper, M.D., medical director of palliative care, the program was launched at Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz in 2011. PAMF has since added Palliative Care services to Palo Alto in June 2012, with future plans to expand the services organzation-wide.

Guiding Cancer Patients through Difficult Times

Cancer is a topic most people shy away from. For Palo Alto Medical Foundation medical oncologist  Natalia Colocci, M.D., Ph.D.,  leading patients and their families through this challenging time is the most rewarding part of her job.

“The diagnosis of cancer marks a defining moment in anyone’s life,” says Dr. Colocci. “I decided to be an oncologist so I could serve as a guide for anyone who is diagnosed with cancer.”

Cancer treatment affects all aspects of a patient’s life, so Dr. Colocci recognizes the importance of helping not just the patient, but the patient’s family and loved ones through as well.

“I want to make sure I’m a pillar throughout this phase,” says Dr. Colocci.  “We are all part of the same community, and we’re all here to help each other. I’m reminded of this every time I run into a patient at the grocery store, a restaurant, or a concert.”

Dr. Colocci sees patients at PAMF’s Palo Alto Center.  Learn more about Dr. Colocci in this video, which is part of a series highlighting the diverse voices of PAMF physicians.

Patient Story – Loving Life Again

Carrie Rasmussen after weight loss surgery.

At 250 pounds, paddling in a canoe was the last thing Carrie Rasmussen would have added to her bucket list – in fact, due to debilitating health problems and her ballooning weight she had lost all will to live.

Rasmussen’s weight gain started after giving birth to her second child. The pregnancy had been traumatic – she was on bed rest for five months and nearly lost the baby twice. Her miracle baby, Emily, was born healthy and thrived, but Rasmussen never bounced back from the experience. For the next 12 years she struggled with one frightening health issue after the other – temporarily losing all feeling in her legs, suffering from throat closures, breathing problems, chest pain, depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Read More

Preschool Pointers – How to Give Your Preschooler a Healthy Start

Babies no longer! Your young child is ready to enter the big wide world of preschool, start the journey of learning and exploring, sticky art projects, circle time, sharing and singing, and making first little friends. Swati Pandya, M.D., a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, offers the following health tips to ensure your little one has the best possible start at preschool and develops life-long healthy habits. Read More