Our lives get so busy joggling our careers, family, and the demands of cancer treatment. If you are like me, I deal with that business by doing a lot of planning. Every single activity of my day is added to my calendar, color-coded and loaded with reminders to make sure my forgetfulness does not catch up with me.
But planning for my own advanced care? Nope, that certainly was not ever on my “to do” list! That is, it wasn’t until I attended a talk on Advanced Care Planning: Everything You Should Know at the 2019 Women’s Cancer Survivors Workshop. We all know that when breast cancer knocks on our door, the idea of death can become very real, even if we’re young. But it’s natural to shy away from unpleasant thoughts, so often we don’t do anything further.
And that’s a shame. Because if we do Advanced Care Planning, life can actually be easier. Advanced Care Planning is not about planning for your own death, but a process that will make sure your wishes are followed if you ever are not be able to speak for yourself. It’s actually a way to empower you and the people around you – all people who are living! Not only do you get to make sure your wished get carried out, it also takes the burden off of your loved ones, keeping them from the heartache and uncertainty of not knowing what you want. So think of Advance Care Planning as a gift to yourself and your loved ones!
And it’s not as hard as you may think. Dr. Bakitas, DNSc, NP-C, FAAN says everything you should do is covered in just three steps:
- Think Carefully – Decide who you want to make decisions if you are unable to do so. Remember, it’s not a popularity contest and choose someone who knows you best and can make decisions for you.
- Have A Conversation With Your Decision Maker – Ask this person if they are willing and able to make sure your wishes are known. Then discuss with them exactly what those wishes are in regards to your treatment and other arrangements.
- Document Your Wishes – Communicate with others what your wishes are, and formally document them with an Advanced Directive. Each state has its own document, so make sure to visit www.prepareforyourcare.org, choose your state, fill out a form and sign (you & two witnesses). Then give a copy to your designated decision maker and healthcare providers.
Simple as that? Yes, actually it is. There is power and comfort for both you and yours when you plan ahead.