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Aging as we all know is not always easy.  Most of us can accept that but are never prepared for “that” news you may receive from your doctor. It is an emotional shock when you or a loved one gets diagnosed with a terminal disease. Most people feel overwhelmed; how you will tell your loved ones about your diagnosis, how will you live your life with the time you have left, how will your family carry on financially and emotionally without you? Unfortunately, there are many people diagnosed with a terminal illness every day who are suddenly faced with the fight of their lives while they try and seek out treatment and get their affairs in order.  Terminal illnesses, such as cancer, can affect everyone in different ways. Whether it is you or a loved who has been told they are terminally ill, it is important to know, there is no right or wrong way to handle the diagnosis. We hope that this blog will help you or a loved one cope during the most difficult of circumstances.

After the initial shock from the news, you may experience feelings of denial, sadness, anger or hopelessness.  These are all normal responses.  You have every right to your feelings. As difficult as it may be, you should get a second, third and even fourth opinion to ensure there wasn’t a misdiagnosis or that all treatment options were considered. Whatever behavior or course of action you or your loved one take, there is no right or wrong. Some people like to keep up their daily routine for as long as possible, while others seek to spend as much time with family.

It is common for some who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness to keep it from their loved ones and friends because they do not want them to worry or fuss about them.  It is their choice, but no one should go through it alone. Ask for help!  When you are ready, you should tell your loved ones so that they can emotionally and mentally prepare and help you as your illness progresses. There is no shame in asking for help from anyone during this time. If for some reason you don’t have family or are estranged from them, seek counseling from your hospital’s staff or your physician’s office. Counseling can be very helpful for you and your family in coping with your diagnosis. One of the most important things you can do after a terminal diagnosis is to join a support group.  Your doctor and healthcare team will be able to point you in the right direction.  Sometimes, your family could help you find support groups in person or online. For example, the American Cancer Association has great links on their website to help and your loved ones you through these difficult times now and in your journey ahead.

Treatment options are available for you even though you have a terminal illness.  Social workers, psychologists or psychiatrists are available for you to help you handle and treat the depression and anxiety that comes along with the diagnosis.  Psychiatric disorders impact roughly 35% of all cancer patients.  There is medication to help you cope with the feelings you are having and can help you cope with the day to day. There are also life-extending options like palliative care and even acupuncture.  Both of these can help you minimize the physical and mental distress which can lead to depression and anxiety.  Experimental treatments could be an option for you and if you decide to join a clinical trial for a therapy or medication that may help your disease, you will hopefully benefit and contribute to finding a cure in the future. Speak to your doctors and make your wishes known as they discuss options and recommendations. Depending on your illness, support organizations for your illness such as the American Cancer Society or the National Cancer Institute will provide you information on current research, promising treatments and what clinical studies are currently underway and if they are accepting your patients.

When diagnosed as terminally ill, giving up usually feels like the only option left.  It isn’t, and you should not give up.  You may have limited time to live, but you do have a lot to live for.  Remember to take one day at a time.  You can’t worry about what tomorrow will bring so, live in the moment.  See the good in the things that surround you every day.  Go outside, smell the fresh air, see the beautiful flowers and take in all of the quietness first thing in the morning.  You must realize that you will have good days and bad days but try to stay positive. Always focus on positive things; the things that always bring a smile to your face and keep doing the things that make you smile.

When you have a terminal illness, you may feel fatigued and exhausted but don’t hesitate to ask your family and friends for help. You may not realize, but you may be helping them not feel helpless. Remember, they love you and will miss you, so spending time with you is important to them. Let those close to you know about your final wishes, but more importantly make sure you have a will and name an executor that you trust to ensure that your final wishes are followed.

Here are some questions to help you ensure your affairs are in order.

  • Do you have a DNR (do not resuscitate) and a medical directive? Let someone know where your important papers are.
  • Do you have your financials in order? Update or create your will.  Consider creating an advance healthcare directive, which puts your specific desires about your future healthcare in writing. This legally binding document encompasses two parts. The first is a“durable power of attorney” for health care, in which you will name someone (a proxy) who can make medical decisions for you should you become unable to do so.
  • Do you have a life insurance policy with your beneficiaries listed that is current?
  • Do you have any debt that your beneficiaries will have to take care of once you pass and what are the tax implications they will have to bear?
  • Finding cash for expenses can be challenging.  You should start with any of the typical sources, such as employee benefits, medical insurance, disability insurance, credit, and life insurance policies.  Depending on your life insurance policy requirements, those with a terminal illness such as a cancer diagnosis might be able to sell their life insurance policy for a cash payout to cover medical expenses, long-term care, palliative and hospice care.  This is referred to as a viatical settlement.

For more information about selling your life insurance policy to help you and your family, find out what your policy could be worth today!  You can get a free estimate to find out the value and may be able to get a viatical settlement to help your family and give you peace of mind. Click here

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