Portrait of Kay Miller

Palliative Care: Bringing Comfort, Improving Quality of Life 

I’m a retired nurse so I’m comfortable with hospitals. My daughter isn’t. That’s why we needed to get a plan in place, and I made an appointment with the palliative care team.

What is palliative care? The goal of palliative care is to address and relieve the symptoms, stress and suffering that may accompany serious illnesses such as cancer or heart failure. It can be appropriate for anyone at any age and any stage of a chronic or serious disease, and can be provided alongside curative care.

The interdisciplinary palliative care team at Overlake provides services in both inpatient settings and at outpatient office visits. They help patients and their loved ones navigate medical options and decisions, manage symptoms that impact daily living, and provide support so patients and their families can better cope with the stress and uncertainty of serious illness. When appropriate, palliative care can help facilitate the transition to hospice care. They also connect patients to community resources and education, and as with Kay Miller (read Kay's story below), assist with advance care planning.

One of the most important things is my life is my relationship with my daughter, Beth. We talk on the phone and get together regularly. One day, we were talking about what she will do when something happens to me. She was having trouble figuring out how she would handle an emergency with me as I get older.

I have experienced serious illnesses as a nurse, caretaker and as a patient. After experiencing what my husband went through with pancreatic cancer, I felt a real need to have a plan for myself and my daughter. My quality of life is what is most important to me, and my wish is to age at home.

I saw Dr. [Atul] Gawande on “Book TV,” where he spoke about his book Being Mortal and talked about palliative care. This got me thinking about how I could use it. I had also seen flyers about Overlake palliative care in an Overlake clinic. This led me to making an appointment with Overlake’s Palliative Care Services.

My appointment was with Dr. Jane Yeh, and Beth and I went in together. Dr. Yeh was a great listener, and we gave her the information she needed to help us put together a plan. It was very helpful and reassuring for my daughter to have all the information and instructions in place when an emergency comes up. It gives me peace of mind, too.

My first interaction with Overlake was when I volunteered when I first moved to the area in the 70s. Subsequent experiences at Overlake have been when I had a knee replacement in 2004, then I had breast cancer and two mastectomies in 2009. In 2012, I was diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation [a heart arrhythmia], which is managed with medications. I see Denise [LeDoux] and Dr. [Joseph] Doucette at Overlake Cardiology. Dr. [Chailin] Wey, my primary care doctor, has guided me through a lot of medical issues; she is a fabulous internist.

I have been very happy with the care I’ve received throughout the years at Overlake; that’s why I was confident in receiving palliative care services, which I praise. It has really served my family well.

Palliative care is covered by most private insurances as well as Medicare and Medicaid. To make an appointment with Overlake’s outpatient palliative care team, please call 425.635.6393. Visit overlakehospital.org/palliativecare for more information.