Currently there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. Unfortunately for all of us, that means that there will come a time when treatments no longer work and we will need to decide about hospice, end of life care and how we wish to die. Here are some helpful links:
What are Advance Directives ?
Cancer.gov answers many of the basic questions about advance directives, living wills and medical power of attorney. Ideally you should create an advance directive when you are first diagnosed.
What is hospice care?
Cancer.gov explains what hospice care is, how it differs from palliative care, who is eligible, how to pay for it and also gives links to other references.
Since it’s difficult to discuss the topic of death and dying and your oncologist will often not bring it up, the Stanford Letter Project offers a template of questions for you to think about and answer. You can then actually give the letter to your oncologist or family member or use it as a basis to begin talking. This also makes it easier to go to the more formal advance directive.
This is a movement started in Seattle to address what they call “the most important and costly conversation that America is not having.” There is a video of a TED talk by founder Michael Hebb. If you click on the Get Started tab, the 3rd page will give you a helpful listing of articles and videos to read as a basis for starting the conversation.
Caring Connections, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), is a national consumer and community engagement initiative to improve care at the end of life. Home page directs you to specific information with these questions: Are you planning ahead? Are you caring for someone? Are you living with an illness? Are you grieving a loss?
To find local sources of care, visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
or call their helpline at 1-800-658-8898.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) website
Comprehensive site with information on end-of-life planning and care, including questions to ask your health care provider, coping with pain, places of care and paying for care.
- Seeking a Beautiful Death by Jane E. Brody NYTimes 2/9/15
- Frontline broadcast on PBS on Being Mortal, based on the book by Dr. Atul Gawande, you can view it here. Explores the issue of medicine and what matters in the end. Well worth a view. (54 minutes long)
- Ending Treatment: A Discussion with my Beloved Oncologist by Sherri Fillipo 4/16/15