Why early advance care planning conversations are so important

When you hear the word cancer, you begin to contemplate the finality of life and ask yourself a hundred questions: Will I survive? If treatment is no longer an option, how do I want to spend my remaining time? What if I am no longer able to make my own decisions? How do I choose someone to speak on my behalf? I’m thankful my cancer journey has not reached a point when those last questions mattered, but when I was just beginning my breast cancer treatment, I didn’t know what was going to happen. Thankfully, advance care planning helped me prepare for every scenario. Establishing clarity with MD Anderson and my family After my breast cancer diagnosis, I really took the time to understand my disease, prognosis, as well as my treatment goals and plans. That information allowed me to openly discuss all my options with my family and health care team, and choose the treatment course that best fit my needs. And because I had already completed my Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will and Out of Hospital Do Not Resuscitate Order, MD Anderson knew from the get-go who could speak on my behalf if I was no longer able to do so and what my medical team needed to do in emergency and life-or-death situations. Taking control of my medical decisions Making my care preferences known early got everyone on the same page and lessened my anxiety about the future. When I was being wheeled into surgery, someone asked me if I’d already completed my advance directive forms. I was glad my answer was yes because I...