Everyone Needs an AdvocateCarri Schnabel, BSN, RN Jan 17, 2023
I read this book last week “Queen of Katwe” by Tim Crothers. It’s based on a true story of a girl who dared to dream larger than her circumstances and became the first Woman Candidate Master of chess from her country, and she is not done dreaming yet. If it wasn’t for Robert Katende, a war refugee turned missionary, Phiona would not have known chess existed. Katende was on a mission to impower children in the slums of Katwe through chess. He taught the game using symbolism that the children could relate to in their own lives. Phiona was hungry to learn everything Katende was able to teach her and more.
This book showed me how much advocacy can matter. Whether it is in the community or for our patients. Everyone can benefit from a helping hand, a hope where all seems desolate. Just like Phiona, patients with serious illnesses don’t know what they need or what is available unless someone shows them things can be different, things can be better. Even with no cure, life doesn’t have to be a constant struggle.
It might be something as simple as the chaplain that is praying with a patient and overhears the family discussing childcare of the patient’s children or caring for their pet that leads to a psychosocial benefit of palliative care. It might be the nurse that is changing a dressing and the patient starts to cry because she was just told she was being discharged and she has no clothes to go home in. They were cut away in the ER and she has only “this gown”.Through this program, I have learned that palliative care is not just treating a patient’s symptoms but being mindful of the whole person and even the patient’s family. You don’t know what a patient might need, what is important to them, unless you get to know them and then advocate for the care and the support they need. Patients are not just their illness. They have lives, triumphs, and struggles, just like you and me, and they need to know the palliative care team can help with more than just medical needs. Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes.