Discussing Difficult Issues: Talking to your family about your wishes
Once you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, you will find out very quickly that this is not a curable cancer. You may be able to live a lot longer than people with mesothelioma did in the past, because of the improved treatment available. However, as difficult as it may be, it is also important for you to think about how you want to handle your illness should it become clear that you are not winning the battle against the disease.
As you hear about treatment options, you will realize that even treatment poses risks, and you might become gravely ill or even die during one or another treatment.
You may have a lot of time to think about this, but you may not. There is no way to know at the onset when a life-threatening event is going to happen.
Everyone is different in their responses to this situation. If you feel like you can discuss it with your spouse or partner, or your adult children early on, it may make things much easier for you later when you may be feeling very sick. If you don’t address it early on, and you get suddenly worse, you may not be able to say what you want, and your family may not know what to do.
Perhaps you have already had this discussion with your family in a general way. Now it is more specific, and you may need to decide if your illness will change what you want done.
There are many ways of making these decisions so that everyone knows your wishes, including the doctors and the hospital.
At any point, you have a right to treatment, as well as a right to refuse treatment. If you are clear enough in your mind and you do want to refuse treatment, you can make that decision and tell your doctors. However, if you are too sick to make decisions, you need to leave instructions for what you want to have done.