Facing end of life


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:

Kerrie Noonan, Clinical Psychologist, Palliative Care, Liverpool Hospital, and Director, The GroundSwell Project, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Facilitator, Telephone and Internet Support Groups, Cancer Council NSW; Ann Branford, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Kathryn Dwan, Senior Policy Officer, Palliative Care Australia; Dr Michelle Gold, Director of Palliative Care, Alfred Health, VIC; John Haberecht, Director of Learning and Development, Centre for Palliative Care Research and Education, QLD; Marjorie Hunter, Consumer; Philippa Kirkpatrick, National Policy Manager, Palliative Care Australia; Cecilia van Raders, PalAssist Coordinator, Cancer Council Queensland. 

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