When a child has a serious illness, both the child and their family are bombarded by the demands of the illness — doctor’s appointments, treatment regimens, and difficult decisions to make — all while surrounded by a cloud of uncertainty. Palliative care can be an extra layer of support.
Contrary to popular assumptions, requesting palliative care does not mean that a family has given up on fighting their child’s illness. Instead, it means that there are additional professionals on their team who can help guide decisions, offer emotional and spiritual support, coordinate appointments, and manage symptoms.
“These can be the worst moments of people’s lives, and they deserve to have everybody around them providing support,” says Abby R. Rosenberg, MD, Chief of Pediatric Palliative Care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Director of Palliative Care at Boston Children’s Hospital. “We in palliative care want to help provide that support.”
The Frontline spoke with Dr. Rosenberg to learn how pediatric palliative care helps children and their families navigate life-altering illnesses like osteosarcoma.