Jordi Royo, Psychologist, Palliative Care Unit and Home Care Team at the Fundacio Hospital Sant Jaume i Santa Magdalena, Mataró, Spain. (Part of the ‘Programa para la atención integral a las personas con enfermedades avanzadas’ de la Obra Social ‘la Caixa’).
“The last memory of me and my family sharing with my father a bit of normality was during a soccer game of FC Barcelona against Real Madrid. Looking back, now I think it was the last time we shared some special time together as a whole family with him in the way he used to be.”
Soccer is more than a sport: this becomes increasingly apparent as we approach next weekend’s UEFA Euro 2012! At the recent 7th World Research Congress of the EAPC in Trondheim, we had the honour of presenting a poster of our research, ‘Impact of a soccer game in physical and emotional symptoms in avanced cancer advanced patients: a preliminary report’. We saw in our daily work that when an important soccer match was coming on TV patients seemed less distressed, with lower pain, and we received fewer calls for help. Last year in just two weeks there were four matches between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, so it was the perfect time to explore in a scientific way what we had noticed.
Even though more research is needed our results showed that while watching a live TV soccer game patients had benefits in physical, psychological, social and spiritual domains. Benefits perceived by the patients included: lower pain, increased wellbeing, the pleasure of being in the company of family and friends, better communication, meaning and hope. Could you imagine a pharmacological intervention with all those benefits? Maybe not, though good symptom management is essential to allow the patient to enjoy a good match.
I would like to thank Dr Eduardo Bruera, Dra Mónica Cunill, Josep Maria Picaza, Teresa Font, Monica Pineda and so many other people who believed in our ‘silly’ idea of doing a scientific study about soccer and palliative care. But this study is not only about soccer, it is about life. It is about paying attention to those important things that had been part of the history of the person. It is about keeping that person alive, connected to life until the very last moment. These are the things that may help to improve quality of life, even though one is facing a serious illness and this is all part of the work of La Obra Social ‘La Caixa’ which delivers a psycho-social care programme for people with serious illness. We’ve been talking about soccer and Spain, but I think that any sport – anywhere in the world – may produce similar effects. An NBA finals in the US, a thrilling Formula One race, an exciting Wimbledon tennis match, can enable patients to enjoy sports throughout the year despite their situation. So as we approach Euro 2012 and the Olympics in London, it makes me happy to think that many people who are approaching the end of their lives – their personal match of life – may forget about their illness for a short while as they push for their team to win.
To find out more…
‘Impact of a soccer game in physical and emotional symptoms in avanced cancer advanced patients: a preliminary report’, Royo J, Cunill M, Font T, Picaza JM, Mújica B, Pineda M, Clavel M, Martín E, Corredera L, Llagostera C, Videgain A, Bruera E
was one of 476 posters presented at the EAPC 7th World Research Congress.
You can read all the congress abstracts in the June 2012 edition of Palliative Medicine.