After four years in remission, Tara Llama’s breast cancer returned and metastasized. Her biggest concern wasn’t how she would handle it—it was how her three sons, now ages 9, 15 and 17, would.

Her healthy, active lifestyle, deep faith, and strong family ties gave her the strength for the fight, but after six grueling weeks of chemo, scans showed that not only had the existing tumors grown, but new ones had formed. She felt defeated and didn’t know where to turn. It was then that her oncologist suggested Collabria Care’s palliative care services. Initially, Tara didn’t like the idea.

“I thought palliative care was about giving up on treatment, and I couldn’t do that. I had to fight for my boys! But he explained it’s designed to support me and my treatment decisions, help coordinate care between my doctors, and ease the process—for my family and for me. I also learned that with that extra support, people with serious illness can actually live better and longer, and I want as much time as possible with my boys.”

“One of the most valuable things Collabria Care gave me was support for my family. Our palliative care social worker, Teri, advised us on how to help our boys understand and process what’s happening in a way that’s appropriate for each of them. She’s also someone outside of the family with whom they can share their feelings and ask questions—she understands what they’re going through.” 

“Collabria Care also helped my husband and I understand that death doesn’t have to be scary. We have our faith and believe in heaven, but still, you worry. One of my fears was passing at home and having my boys see the coroner arrive here. The team helped us define what’s important to us, and understand that end of a life doesn’t have to be a difficult moment, but a peaceful process that we can have a say in.”

Fortunately, Tara’s medical team has found a combination of medications that has dropped her tumor marker count significantly, and she is feeling well and enjoying being active again.

“But it’s a blessing to have that extra layer of support from Collabria Care to help all of us through my stage 4 diagnosis.”