$70 helps a cancer nurse give free and confidential information and support.    Donate now

Facing end of life


Friday 20 March, 2020

This section has been prepared to help you understand more about the issues facing people who are dying with cancer. We hope it will provide support and direction during this period.

If you have had cancer diagnosed at a late stage, or if the treatments have stopped working and remission or cure is no longer possible, you may be told that the cancer is end stage or terminal. Everyone copes in their own way with this news. Your reaction may depend on your age, family situation, cultural background and spiritual beliefs.

The infomation here outlines the emotional impact of knowing you are dying, what might happen physically, and how you can prepare for death. There is also information for carers, family and friends. This may be the first time you have read about end-of-life issues. Take your time and check the introduction to each section to see if it is information you want at this stage. Read what seems useful now and leave the rest until you’re ready.

Cancer Council also produces information on Living with Advanced Cancer and Understanding Palliative Care. You may find that one of these is more relevant to you at this time.

If you or your family have any questions, call Cancer Council 13 11 20. We can send you more information and connect you with support services in your area. See further support and information for more details.

Expert content reviewers:

Dr Megan Ritchie, Staff Specialist Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Service, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Rosemary Cavanough, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Metro South Palliative Care Service, QLD; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Rowena Robinson, Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia, ACT; Helena Rodi, Program Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC.

Download PDF Order FREE booklet

Talking bubbles icon

Questions about cancer?

Call or email our experienced cancer nurses for information and support.

Contact a cancer nurse