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Rome, the odyssey in the hospitals of cancer patients: “Diagnosis made standing up”

Rome, the odyssey in the hospitals of cancer patients: “Diagnosis made standing up”
Rome, the odyssey in the hospitals of cancer patients: “Diagnosis made standing up”

“If the pain increases, take him to the emergency room”, or “it is not our responsibility.” How many times has a cancer patient or a relative felt answered in this way. Too many. In the ordeal between diagnosis and treatment (if there is one) until returning home which, often, precludes a routine of examinations and checks that is difficult to accept and, unfortunately, other results in the definitive surrender in the face of the tumor, it is not always easy to find your way around, to access exams and services. Of the more than 2450 requests for help that arrived between November 2020 and October this year at the reception points managed by the volunteers of the‘Aimac, the Italian Cancer Patients’ Association, at the San Giovanni, Sant’Andrea, Ifo, Umberto I, San Filippo Neri, San Camillo, Biomedical Campus, Tor Vergata and Gemelli hospitals, “the majority, 30% – according to the headquarters in via Barberini – concerned information on the pathology and / or on the diagnostic-therapeutic process, 26% needed information material, 14% needed information on the rights of the cancer patient “. That is to say, many patients end up feeling lonely and abandoned and confused. “Many call us to find out if there is a specialized center to contact and how to access it.”

Valentina Ferragni, the results of the analyzes: “It is a malignant tumor, the scar will remain for life”

«That my daughter’s treatment was not working – says Anna, the mother of a thirty-year-old hospitalized in a hospital in Northern Rome – they told me while I was standing in the corridor, in front of other people unknown to me. I felt faint and even humiliated, the life of a girl until a few months ago in full force was thus liquidated in a few brutal words. At that juncture you ask yourself about everything, above all: What to do now? We have activated home assistance but no answers have been received for days ». Valentina, a young reader who wrote to the Messenger to denounce the odyssey experienced by her father suffering from pulmonary adenocarcinoma and who disappeared a few months after diagnosis, explains that the response arrived like a boulder: “Cancer in the third stage inoperable, communication she was made to stand between the exit door of the ward and the entrance of the nurses ». And when the hospice was finally ready to welcome the terminally ill father, “he was already dead.”

«In Rome and Lazio – says Pier Luigi Bartoletti, of the Italian Federation of General Practitioners – there are excellences for the prevention and treatment of cancer and rare tumors. A very well done regional oncological network has been approved but there is no direct connection between the structures and the territory, first of all with us general practitioners. So there is the risk of being in the wrong place and having to resort to the urgency of first aid. Access to oncological networks cannot be casual or left to good acquaintances or agreements between doctors and individual health directors “. Bartoletti launches a football metaphor: «It is as if the general practitioners are the defense and the forwards are the structures of excellence. However, if you don’t have a working midfield, you risk that the ball will never arrive, rather that you will come back. Nor can you always and only throw long to overtake the midfield ». Professor Francesco De Lorenzo, president of Aimac, has long been asking for reception centers for cancer patients managed by the public health system to which the suspected cancer patient can be addressed. «At that point the health system indicates the specialized structure to contact, there all the necessary checks are carried out and already with the exemption from the 048 ticket as happens, for example, in the best practice of Piedmont. In addition to a Covid emergency, we have a cancer emergency in which to invest which can no longer be deferred ». Faced with the forest of exams to undergo, the cost and the unnerving expectations, especially among the elderly, there are those who give up and literally let themselves die. Then there is the problem of hospice care, home care and palliative care. Also in this case there is no certain path and with guaranteed times. “Only we like Antea – explain from the non-profit foundation – assist 150 patients every day, 1527 during 2020. But, although we are not a real health service, we also have our own waiting list of 40 people”.


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