Palliative Care

Calming Wheelchair

At Portland Providence Cancer Center, the Palliative Care office is staffed to provide relief from the pain and stress that accompanies being cast in the part of a person with cancer.

Palliative Care, unlike Hospice Care, encourages continuing treatment of causes and symptoms, while attempting to offer reduced stress, comfort, and relief from pain.

I was referred to Palliative Care by my oncologist on June 10th, and encountered more Change Happening Too Fast.

Notes from my Conversation with “Calm” Wheelchair


“Calm, I am liking you too much on first touch! Where Mark would leave a bruise or a dent, you leave a caress … Perhaps I am experiencing a heady romantic attraction — a summer fling”?


“Marty, my designers are pros. They obsess over quality of design and production. The emotional response you experience reveals your need for respectful design, not for eros.

“If you will, please let yourself accept Calmness. Remember that excellent design is a “stress-reducing human survival skill” that has served stressed-out humans through the ages. You are noticing this now because you need it for your healing. Keep in mind that although your “stressed-out” state makes it hard for you to accept Palliative Care, the young professionals on your Home Health team are here for you. Try to embrace all of the gifts that they bring — even though some of them will be hard for you to accept, because accepting these gifts will require accepting unwanted changes and side effects of treatment.”


“Calm, when the body I have identified as “ME” is no longer present without substantial impairment and the mind that I have identified as “MY MIND” invents new stories to explain a new version of reality every night … I fail to see how tips and tricks of physical and occupational therapy are enough.”

Specifically, the most difficult challenges that Eddy and I needed to learn to manage during the first three weeks of home health care included:

  • Motor Nerve impairment of my left arm, leg and corresponding knee and hip joints, which suffer from loss of strength in the surrounding muscles,
  •  Urinary frequency and the inability to void my bladder without help
  • Acute constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Mobility impairments in our home, carpets and restricted floor plan
  • Family conflicts over when and how to effect changes in home design
  • Accepting the change to needing daily inhome care and arranging for employment of that care.