Future Planning

Thinking about the end of life can be tough. Thinking about death, and planning how you will handle it IS tough. You may feel that planning is “giving up.” You may feel that you need to focus only on staying well. Your family and loved ones may not be comfortable thinking or talking about it. But it’s important.

All of this is understandable.

Planning can be empowering

At the same time, planning can be empowering. There truly are “angels” out there to help you — especially if you’re facing late stage or end-of-life issues. It is not an admission of weakness, loss of hope, or lack of faith in your ability to fight cancer. It’s simply planning — and chances are you’ll be glad you did it.

Planning helps you regain a sense of control over life’s rollercoaster — including the ups and downs of cancer. You’ll realize how much excellent help is available for all stages of life, including those at life’s end. Sooner is better. It’s easier to think and talk about issues when they’re more distant, rather than during a crisis.

Getting your affairs in order can give you a sense of relief, and free up your energy for more immediate challenges. Hospitals now require clear directions about your personal wishes and who can make decisions for you if you are admitted to the hospital but unable to make decisions for yourself. Planning for what you want during both treatment and as the end of your life
approaches requires a team.

Future Planning Team

You’ll want to include:

  • Family members and friends. Talking over your thoughts and wishes can help clarify your own ideas and let your loved ones know what you need and want. Remember, at least one trusted family member or friend needs to know where you keep legal, financial, and medical directive information.
  • Your health care team. Especially the doctor who coordinates all your various specialty caregivers.
  • An attorney. You may need help with your will, advance directive or other legal documents.
  • A financial planner, if applicable.
  • Social workers. They can talk with both you and your family about your fears, concerns, and needs.
  • Hospice staff. You can talk to hospice about their services and requirements before being enrolled. If you have several hospice organizations in your community, see which best fits your needs.
  • Insurance professionals. They can clarify what coverage you have for care and help with paperwork that may be needed after your death
  • Spiritual support including your clergy. Some cancer patients are strengthened by planning a funeral or burial place. Once done, they are free to continue with cancer care. (Pastoral care is included in hospice services.)

Content medically-reviewed by members of the Fight Colorectal Cancer Medical Advisory Board, February 2014

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