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Jóvenes Adelante Grad Helps Bring International Palliative Care Congress to SMA

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By Kate Greenaway

On May 15–17, the San Miguel-based NGO Mitigare Cuidados Paliativos will convene a three-day conference, hosting presenters and participants from all over México and as far away as Spain. Jóvenes Adelante is proud to note that one of its graduates, Carla Cadena, will serve as the director of this badly needed palliative care education conference.

For Cadena, a business administration graduate, this is a logical— but challenging— application of her degree and an extension of her role as administrative director for Mitigare.

“Our vision is to create capacity in central México for the provision of palliative care and hospice services,” Cadena explained “We also aim to motivate health providers to incorporate palliative care programs into their own practices and units.”

More than 300 doctors, nurses, psychologists, thanatologists, caregivers, social workers, pediatrics, oncology specialists, and other health practitioners are expected to attend the conference.

At only 22, Cadena has experienced firsthand the dramatic difference that palliative care can make. During our interview, our breakfast went untouched as she described how her grandfather, dying of old age, found a three-day hospitalization extremely distressing—with his visiting hours curtailed, the number of his visitors limited, and children forbidden altogether. Upon his release, he relaxed into the care of his huge extended family at home, and with his needs straightforward and predictable, everyone did the hard work of journeying through his end of life together.

Her uncle’s death shortly thereafter was a different story: his family learned of his prostate cancer only after his death. The only thing they knew was his severe, unrelenting pain and that harrowing doctor trips didn’t alleviate his suffering. Cadena’s family of 30 grew increasingly anxious, helpless. Now, even though he has been gone for two years, the family still worries that there was “something more we could have done.”

Fast forward a couple of years: Cadena’s mother learned that her employer of 15 years (her “second mom”) was dying. The employer, Laura (a pseudonym), knew she had only months to live and began putting her affairs in order. She researched her prognosis and, with a palliative care provider, created a care plan. Laura relied initially on Cadena’s mother for care before adding palliative care home-support workers. She enjoyed her visitors when she could and she said goodbye to the people close to her. Laura died quietly, pain-free, in Cadena’s mother’s arms.

“I know firsthand palliative care is desperately needed here in México,” Cadena said. “The patients and families need it. Mexican families are close. They want to be involved, but they need someone to teach them what to do, what to give for pain and how often, what to expect and how to respond. They need someone to tell them, ‘You did a great job; you did everything you could.’”

Cadena and the Mitigare team would appreciate your help in spreading the word about this important conference. Cadena can be reached at mitigare2019@gmail.com or by calling 415 152 3070. Registration is required, and sessions will be in Spanish only.

Jóvenes Adelante aims to unlock a radically expansive future for SMA youth by easing financial barriers to higher education and by intentionally nurturing their life skills and leadership abilities.  Please visit our website www@jovenesadelante.org, call 415 150 0030, or email info@jovenesadelante.org for more information.

 

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