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Debbie, from the Cancer Information team, talks about her own personal experience of cancer and the importance of advance care planning.
Like many families,
we weren’t comfortable talking about it. As a result, when dad died, there
wasn’t enough time for him to come home as he wanted. And we were left with
conflicting opinions about what he had wanted to happen after his death.
At a time
when our remaining family should have been supporting each other, we found
ourselves torn apart. The only thing we knew for certain was that dad hadn’t
On 27th March, a
conference is being held in London focusing on improving outcomes for people
approaching the end of life. It’s being chaired by the Chief Executive of the
National Council for Palliative Care and Dying Matters Coalition.
The Dying Matters
to change our attitudes towards death and dying. Whether we are ill or not,
they’re encouraging us to consider the following issues and tell our family and
friends what we want to happen.
Where do you want to die?
Most people would prefer to die at home, as long as they know
they’ll have good quality care. Often the choice of where someone will die depends on what they want, what help they’ll have from family
and friends, and what services are available in the area where they live. The GP,
district or community nurses and local specialist palliative care teams can
tell you about the support they can offer.
We have details of
all these services in our booklets Caring
for someone with advanced cancer and Coping
with advanced cancer. These are also available as audiobooks.
addition, our booklet End of life: The facts has been developed by Macmillan
with Marie Curie Cancer Care. It is primarily for people who would like to be looked
after at home, and for their carers. It explains what happens during the
last few weeks and days of life,
someone has died.
How do you
want to be cared for?
several ways you can make and record plans of what you would like to happen -
or not happen. A Preferred
Priorities for Care document
can record your wishes about where and how you would like to be cared for, and
the people you’d like to be involved in your care, for example. It is not legally binding, but would be taken
into account if you weren’t able to make decisions for yourself.
Decision to Refuse Treatment
can record specific treatments you don’t want to have such as resuscitation.
What do you want to happen after you
Many of us have
an idea of what kind of funeral we’d like, what songs we’d like played and
where we’d like to be buried. Organising a funeral can be hugely stressful for
your loved ones if they don’t know what you would’ve wanted. You can document
your wishes in your will or keep a record of them in a safe place known to
family or friends.
a will also
ensures that the people you want to inherit your property, personal possessions
and money actually do. It’s important to keep it updated to reflect major
changes in your life such as meeting a new partner or having children.
Macmillan’s booklet, Your life
and your choices: plan ahead explains why planning ahead is
important whether you have
an illness or not. It discusses creating a Lasting
Power of Attorney,
writing down how you’d like to be cared for using a Preferred Priorities for
Care document and writing Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment. It also has
information about making a will, organ
and tissue donation,
planning.Please note: This booklet only
covers England and Wales. If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you
should ask a healthcare or legal professional to give you information that’s
relevant to that country.
ahead can be
hard, but it can help give you a greater sense of control over your future. Your
family and friends may also find it difficult to talk about, but it will ensure
they know exactly what you want. And they will be comforted by knowing that they
were able to do their best for their loved one.
Support from Macmillan
online community has a Living
with incurable cancer support group, which is specifically for anyone with a terminal
diagnosis, and a Carers
only support group.
You can also call our cancer
on 0808 808 00 00 to order any
of the resources mentioned and for more support and guidance.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2010
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