When a person is facing a diagnosis of terminal cancer, it affects not only them but their family as well. Just as the family will go through a grieving process, the person diagnosed will too. If you have cancer or a family member does and the prognosis is poor, the steps below are some practical ones that can help you move forward.
Moving Grief Outward
There is a model for dealing with any kind of stressful situation, including grief, that says you should put the person who is closest to the situation in the center and turn outwards for support. In other words, the person who has been diagnosed should be at the center of this circle. They can turn to close friends and family members for support, but those close friends and family members should not lean on them for support because that person has their hands full coping with a situation that is both physically and emotionally challenging. Instead, they should turn outward to other friends and family members and so on, in ever-widening circles.
Dealing with Finances
Even for those who have insurance, cancer treatment can be costly. Some may also want extra money to do things they might have been putting off, such as taking a trip. This is a good time to look over finances and figure out how money can be moved around and whether there are investments or other assets that can be cashed in. If the person has a life insurance policy and there are not dependents who will need the money from it, they may want to consider a viatical settlement. This is an arrangement in which someone with a life expectancy of just a couple of years can get cash for a life insurance policy. It may help to review a guide that can help you and your family plan for what is next whatever you decide to do.
End of Life Preparation
A person facing a terminal illness should make sure their will, beneficiary designations and other estate planning documents are updated, but they may also want to think about other end of life care considerations. For example, they may want to talk to their family and doctor about what kind of life extending treatment they do and don’t want. They may also want to find out what kind of options might be available for hospice and other types of care.
Finding Your Center
Attending to practical considerations is important, but people also need to take care of their emotional wellbeing. Some people, whether they are the ones with cancer or a loved one has it, might benefit from working with a therapist or talking to a leader in their religious community. Others may find journaling or a hobby like gardening helpful. They should also keep in mind that information about survival rates from cancer are statistics about other people in the past. This should not be used to give false hope but to understand that while they are useful, any one individual’s experience may be a much longer or shorter survival time compared to the average or median.
Updated: July 7, 2021