Facing End of Life

Saturday 1 February, 2014

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Sometimes cancer treatments stop working and a cure or remission is no longer possible. You may be told the cancer is end stage, and it’s expected that you have a limited time to live.

This information is for people who have terminal cancer. There is also information for family and friends of someone who is dying. It outlines what might happen physically, the emotional impact of knowing you are dying and how you can prepare for death. We hope it will provide support and direction during this period.

Everyone copes with the news that they’re dying in their own way. How you cope may depend on your age, family situation, cultural background and spiritual beliefs.

You may find reading about dying difficult and distressing. Each page begins with a summary to help you quickly see if it is relevant for you. Read what seems useful now and leave the rest until you’re ready. You may also like to pass this information on to your family and friends for their information.

Cancer Council 13 11 20 can arrange telephone support in different languages for non-English speakers. You can also call the ranslating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 13 14 50.

"My doctors haven’t ‘given me a date’ but I’m preparing for the day. I’m getting my affairs in order and trying to make sense of things.

When I have been up to it, my family has been filming a video of our time together, especially the special moments with my grandchild. This has been very important to me, and will be a treasured keepsake for my family.

I would encourage others to set a goal to work towards. My goal is to stay with my children in my home until the end."

Reviewed by: Dr Melanie Price, Executive Director, Psycho-oncology Co-operative Research Group, Senior Research Fellow, School of Psychology, University of Sydney; Dr Erica Cameron-Taylor, Staff Specialist, Department of Palliative Medicine, Mercy Hospital and Calvery Mater Newcastle, NSW; Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar, Telephone Support Group Facilitator, Cancer Council NSW; Helpline and Cancer Counselling Service staff, Cancer Council QLD; Judith Quinlivan, Consumer; Linda Wolfe, Consumer; and Dr Mary Brooksbank, Philip Plummer and Claire Maskell Gibson on behalf of Palliative Care Australia.
Updated: 01 Feb, 2014