Planning ahead can be difficult, but once you have started the conversation you may find it easier to talk about your feelings and preferences while you are well.
It can also help your family feel at peace with decisions they might one day need to make, knowing that it was what you wanted.
Over three quarters of people who had talked to a family member about their health care wishes found it helped them make decisions about their care.
You may like to start planning for the future by talking to your treatment team about the care that you might want if your disease progresses. Your treatment team are the experts in your specific metastatic breast cancer and can recommend a type of care that is tailored to your needs.
One of the ways people can access specialised support is through palliative care, yet there is often misunderstanding around what palliative care can offer because it can be associated with end of life care. When told what palliative care services can actually provide, many people are much more comfortable with the idea.
Palliative care means that you, your family and carers can get practical, emotional and physical support.
Whatever is within my control I am able to do … Empowerment is important for me.
Some useful tools to help you reflect on your values and preferences for care are in Palliative Care Australia’s Discussion Starter series and Card packs.
These resources have been developed to help normalise early conversations about the end-of-life.
Dealing with the shock, uncertainty and initial fear around planning for the worse [was challenging] ... but then [it was about] getting on with things and deciding that, for as long as I can, I will live life to the fullest and continue to do the things I had planned to do prior to my diagnosis.
After you’ve thought about the care that you want, you might like to consider writing down your wishes in an advance care plan.
Thinking about and letting other people know about your preferences for your care towards the end of your life is called 'advance care planning’. This is a process to help you plan and write down your future health care preferences.
Advance care planning can include legal documents such as an:
advance care directive (sometimes referred to as a ‘living will’) about your health care preferences if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself because of illness or incapacity.
enduring guardian, medical treatment decision maker or similar term (the legal document about 'who' you want to make health care decisions for you if you become too unwell to communicate those decisions yourself) where your preferences are recorded.
For further information and documents about advance care planning that apply in your state or territory, go to Advance Care Planning Australia.
Once you have an advance care plan, you can help make your views more easily available by uploading it to your My Health Record, where it will be available to health care providers when it is needed.
Listen to the BCNA podcast: Episode 37: Advance Care Planning – Taking Control of Your Future
Read BCNA’s booklet Planning ahead, to help you work out what is most important as you plan ahead.
Visit My Journey, BCNA’s online tool for information tailored to your diagnosis. My Journey has a Symptom Tracking tool that you can use to help you record your pain, what works for you and what doesn’t.
Join our Online Network if you think that talking to others online and sharing experiences will help.
Contact BCNA’s Helpline on 1800 500 258 between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm AEST Monday to Friday, for information about the services and support that may be available for you and your family.
Let’s be upfront about death, dying and mortality.
Let’s be upfront about pain, side effects and palliative care.
Let’s be upfront about different perspectives during and beyond a breast cancer diagnosis.
Let’s be upfront about behavioural changes.
Let’s be upfront about life after cancer treatment.
Let’s be upfront about the challenges for those living with metastatic breast cancer.
*This article does not provide medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you're seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.