James D. Huysman Psy.D., LCSW

Life in the Recovery Room

An Angel on This Earth, Enjoying Life a Day at a Time

Amy Berman: My hero and our pioneer in the new world of palliative care.

Posted May 29, 2012

Palliative Care Blog by Amy Berman

Educating & Empowering Us All

Her business acumen and professional reputation are rivaled only by the size of her heart and commitment to changing the face of healthcare for professionals and seniors everywhere. She is a joy and an inspiration to work with and to know. I know I am not alone in saying that I will be forever grateful that she has chosen the field of working with older adults as her personal mission in life. To me Amy is a life force and an inspiration and an angel on this earth. Now I’m going to tell you another reason why.

I recently spoke on a panel with her at the Aging in America Conference. We spoke about the NASW Standards for Caregivers of Older Adults that I helped to create and that Amy and her visionary team helped to fund. She is a Senior Program Director at the Hartford Foundation. Before our session and on the way to the airport in a cab, she shared some information with me that froze me in my tracks, shocked and deeply saddened me. 

She has been diagnosed with a rare, Stage 4 breast cancer; it is incurable. Her choice was to seek medical heroics with life-changing consequences or opt for palliative care. After much soul searching and research that only Amy could do, she courageously chose to receive palliative care, which is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. The focus of palliative care is to provide relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis.

The point of palliative care is to relieve suffering and provide the best possible quality of life for both the patient and their family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient's other doctors to provide an extra layer of support.  It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

Palliative Care

An Approach Whose Time Has Come

Leave it to Amy to take courage, grace and disclosure to a new level. As part of her “treatment” Amy is blogging a virtual diary of her experience. By doing this, she is in a position to do more for evolving the concept of palliative care than anyone else on the planet. And that, good people, is a living legacy. As if on a Zen surfboard perfectly hanging ten on the wave of life, the friend of so many in modern healthcare will be educating all of us experientially in the world of palliative care through her blog.

When I called Amy to ask if I could talk about what she was doing in this blog, I also asked her why I felt so close to her as a power and force in our social service field. She said to me,” “We are Kindred spirits.”

I don’t think I have ever received a higher compliment. To be a kindred spirit of Amy Berman allows me to put my own work in context, not in comparison to what she has achieved, but possibly because I find talking about my own challenges important and liberating. 

So, thank you, Amy for living out loud and inspiring me and so many others to do the same.

Amy is living these years of her life in the manner she has lived her entire life. She is living it on behalf of all of us openly to educate the world in order to leave this planet and the healthcare system a better place than when she found it.

To read Amy’s blog go here http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/tag/amy-berman.

For more information on palliative care, go to http://www.webmd.com/palliative-care/what-is-palliative-care.   ###