When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it is often life-changing. The fear, anxiety and pain that accompany the diagnosis and treatment of a chronic disease can take a toll on one’s quality of life. 

As doctors focus on treating the disease, side effects like these are sometimes overlooked. That’s where palliative care can help. 

It’s a growing field of specialized medical care that improves the quality of life of patients and their families by coordinating their care and focusing on symptoms of treatment for a serious disease such as cancer. 

Palliative care is a big change in health care delivery, and it works in favor of the patient. Not only can it improve patient experience and outcomes, it can also reduce medical costs. 

Last week, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to urge lawmakers to advance a bill currently pending in Congress that would increase education of and access to palliative care. This bill has strong bipartisan support and we need it to pass this year. 

The time to act is now. Our lawmakers must take this opportunity to increase access to palliative care so patients and their families have that extra layer of support when they need it most.

Judy Rospenda