Sharing ‘Sacred’ Moments With Patients Makes Palliative Care Fulfilling

Dr. Lise Barbour
Palliative Care Physician

Before Dr. Lise Barbour went to medical school, she spent one year volunteering for a Jesuit program as a cancer educator in rural and central Oregon. Working with cancer patients and educators was very inspiring, she says. “I was exposed to patients with cancer and the realities of end-of-life care, and I truly enjoyed it,” she says.

Realizing her calling

Dr. Barbour carried that experience with her as she went on to study internal medicine at Louisiana State University Medical Center, and upon graduation, decided palliative care was her calling. She completed an internship, residency and fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals.

Working in palliative care has been a privilege, Dr. Barbour says, because of the sacred moments she experiences talking with patients and their families to get to the heart of what matters most to them, and allowing care decisions to flow from there.

“It’s very fulfilling and meaningful when you have that feeling. When I think about why I love what I do, there are moments where you sit in a room with a patient and their family, and you are privileged to hear their most intimate fears and hopes and thoughts,” she says. “Those are truly sacred moments.”

Achieving small victories

Dr. Barbour is passionate about helping patients retain a good quality of life, doing the things they love to do and achieving small victories, even as they are battling a terminal illness. Those include helping someone get a better night’s sleep, treating a secondary condition like menopause, or enabling patients to maintain hobbies by treating pain and other symptoms.

“When people are very ill, they somehow think they should be feeling horrible, and that’s just the way it goes, but that’s simply not true,” Dr. Barbour says. “I have been trained in pain management, so when I can make my patients feel better even in small ways, it makes me happy. I love being able to make people feel better.”

Warm Colorado welcome

Colorado is a melting pot, full of transplants from all over the country and beyond. “A lot of people here understand what it’s like to be from somewhere else, so the culture is extremely welcoming,” Dr. Barbour says. “Where you’re from matters less than who you are and what you like to do.”

She definitely feels at home in Colorado. Not only does she love going to the mountains to hike, ski, or fish with her husband and children, but she’s also channeled her love of cooking into a recurring community event. Once a month, Dr. Barbour helps organize and cook a meal for 150 people at her church. “I do a lot of cooking at home, and it is so different from my daily work. It’s very relaxing for me to switch it up and cook food for everyone.”

Learn more about why Dr. Barbour enjoys working for CPMG.

Learn more about working for CPMG.