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A Beginner’s Guide to Terminal Cancer and End-of-Life Care

By Guest Blogger, Scott Sanders, of Cancer Well
Adapted by Samantha Manns, Marketing Specialist

There comes a time in the cancer journey when patients and families must plan for the future. There is no worse time to begin outlining advanced directives than when a disease metastasizes or another adverse health event changes treatment trajectory. I highly recommend giving yourself and your family the gift of solace during the difficult transition to end-of-life care by organizing your wishes well ahead of time.

Clearly Communicate Your Desires to Family

Talking about your end-of-life desires with family can be extremely difficult. But if you don’t let them know what kind of care you want, you forfeiting your decision-making power to others as the disease progresses. Medical professionals often recommend expensive and highly aggressive treatments intent on extending life rather than maintaining the quality of life. This can be frustrating for people who would rather stay at home for their end-of-life care. Being clear about your wishes can help reduce the financial costs faced by you or your loved ones.

Prepare For When You Can No Longer Make Decisions

If you become unable to make your own decisions as cancer progresses, doctors may choose to make expensive decisions that you do not agree with. Fortunately, you can give a loved one the authority to act on your behalf, so they can prioritize your needs and help make your wishes known to health care professionals.

You can choose someone to make decisions for you by appointing them as your agent or proxy and giving them power of attorney. Family or friends can apply to be a representative by completing a form with the U.S. Social Security Administration. If you do not have a trusted loved one you can appoint as your care agent, you can create a living will. A living will is a legal document that outlines your medical decisions for your healthcare team if you become unable to communicate. For example, this will detail your wishes in regards to specific life-sustaining treatments. In this case, a social security representative can also be helpful. These are organizations that collect your Social Security benefits and use them to pay for your needs.

Our care team works diligently to organize your end-of-life wishes, benefits, and advanced directives based on individual care plans. Their clinical and legal knowledge makes them a valuable asset to preparing your loved ones during this potentially strenuous task. Learn more about Saisystems Health’s care team model here.