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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


This area of the Guide is for people who are undergoing treatment when the purpose is to keep cancer in check until a new treatment becomes available.

If you have read other sections of our guide: 

The core of the discussions is similar, but the differences concerning each part of your life affected by cancer make it worthwhile to at least read the summaries in the other sections of this document.  Experience indicates that there is bound to be at least one thought that is new to you that will be helpful.

If you haven’t read other sections of our guide:

Our discussion is divided into the various parts of your life that may be affected by cancer. We recommend that you at least read the summaries in the other sections of this document to get an idea of the subjects covered and a few key principles that can make life easier. Even if you were diagnosed a good while ago, there’s bound to be at least one thought that is new to you that will help.

Our medical discussion includes a subject that studies indicate doctors seldom bring up because they wait for the patient to bring it up:  The question of whether it is time to stop treating the disease and instead move quality of life to the forefront. Even if you are nowhere near such a thought, consider at least reading about the components that would go into such a decision. Dealing with this issue rather than burying it under layers of anxiety and fear can help you be in control – whatever your decision. Keep in mind that considering such a decision, much less deciding to make the shift, does not mean giving up, or giving up hope. Thanks to the extraordinary medical advances to date, there is always reason to hope. If the medical facts change, you can always change your mind.

While information can help you feel in control, too much can also be overwhelming. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, take a break and return when you’re ready to learn more. Alternatively, ask someone in your inner circle to review a particular subject for you. Keep in mind that family and friends want to help.


Cash and investments which can easily be converted into cash can be king when coping with the ongoing costs of treatment. Unless access to cash is not an issue, keep as much cash or cash equivalents available as you can until you get news that there is no longer evidence of disease.

  • Put off discretionary purchases for now. 
  • Don’t give in to the urge to splurge way beyond your means on things you have “always wanted” or the trip you were planning for “someday.”  Too many people survive and ruefully find themselves saddled with extraordinary debt.
  • Use credit instead of cash when possible – particularly credit cards which have a benefit that pays off the balance in the event of death.  (To learn how to get more credit, click here.)
  • If you are considering purchasing an expensive item such as a car, see if you can get credit life insurance on the balance. Generally , applications for this kind of insurance do not request medical information. Credit life insurance will pay off the outstanding amount of debt in the event of your death. (For information about credit life insurance, click here

If you have health insurance:

  • Maximizing use of your health insurance policy will minimize your out-of-pocket expenses.  To learn how to maximize:
    • Your health insurance, click here,
    • Medicaid, click here.
    • Medicare Part D, click here
  • Financial assistance may be available if needed to pay for premiums, co-insurance or co-pays. For information, click here

If you do not have health insurance:

  • Use the information in our document about Uninsured to minimize the cost of treatment.
  • Financial assistance may be available. For information, click here
  • You can still buy health insurance. (To learn more, click here
  • Veterans qualify for veterans health coverage. (Click here
  • You may be able to qualify for Medicaid (Medi-cal in California.)
    • For information about Medicaid, click here.  
    • For information about transferring income or assets to qualify for Medicaid, click here.  

If you are in a financial bind:

  • You are not alone. People with medical expenses represent over 60% of the people filing for personal bankruptcy. Over 75% of those people had health insurance. If you are having difficulty paying medical bills or other debt (we call it experiencing a “financial crunch”):
    • To learn time tested techniques to use in a financial crunch, click here. As you will see, one of the techniques is to look for new uses of your assets – including selling a life insurance policy as a Viatical Settlement or a Life Settlement. (For more information, click here and here respectively.)
    • If all else fails, or if you are spending all you income on debt, consider bankruptcy. There should be no shame with bankruptcy. It is such a right for Americans that it is built into the constitution.  (For bankruptcy basics, click here.) 

When you have extra money:

  • Work toward a goal of a cash fund (an Emergency+Fund) equal to 3 to 6 months of monthly expenses. This is the amount of money generally recommended to keep in reserve in case of periods of no income or unexpected expense. It does not mean you have to put this much money away today. However, now is the time to start. (If you work in a specialized area where there are very few jobs, or you experience long periods of being unable to work, aim for 12 months of expenses in your fund.)
  • Put as much money as you can spare into your retirement accounts. 
    • Saving tax dollars is the same as earning extra money. 
    • You can usually withdraw money or borrow it if necessary. If you become disabled, withdrawals are usually without penalty. 
    • Money in a retirement account is protected from creditors. 
  • If you have more than one retirement account:
    • First priority is to fund accounts in which your employer matches your contribution. The value of your contribution is increased as soon as you put it into the account.
    • Then consider:
      • Which accounts are easier to withdraw money from or borrow against in case of unexpected expense. Pay particular attention to when you can do these things as well as the costs you’ll pay, such as penalties.
      • Which accounts are earning you the most money.
    • If you need help with this decision, speak with a financial planner, your accountant or attorney.
  • If you still have money left, open new accounts to the maximum permitted by the tax laws.  

Investments should take into account the possibility of a shortened life expectancy. Avoid investments that cannot readily be turned into cash.

A diagnosis heightens the importance of minimizing taxes

  • Check out all the expenses that are considered to be medical expenses for tax purposes. For information, click here
  • A diagnosis is not an excuse to skip filing tax returns.
  • Plan to minimize chances of an audit. If audited, your diagnosis may help provoke compassion from an auditor.  For information, click here.

Emotional Issues

Living with advanced cancer takes a heavy toll on everyone including spouses and significant others, family and friends.

A pity party every now and then is understandable. Just don’t let sadness take over your life. We don’t have to tell you how precious each minute is and how few of them there are – even in a very long life.

Do not allow emotions to keep you from exploring all medical options available to you, getting a second medical opinion, and moving forward with treatment.

If emotions get in the way, speak with your doctor or a mental health professional who is experienced in working with people with a life changing condition.

Feelings To Anticipate

People who live with advanced colorectal cancer report the following. For a discussion about these feelings, and tips for dealing with them, see the documents in “To Learn More.”

  • Fear that can sometimes border on terror.
    • Fear can show up in a variety of areas, such as fear of death, fear of going through different, stronger and more damaging treatments or fear that the people closest do you will abandon you.
    • There can also be fear of an ostomy, whether the fear is warranted or not. Keep in mind that IF you will need an ostomy, today there is nothing that an ostomate (a person with an ostomy) cannot do. No one can see an ostomy under your clothes and there is no longer any smell.
  • A feeling of unfairness that this is happening to you. You may even find yourself wishing that other people would get cancer as well.
  • Anger – at life, at the universe, at God or another higher power, perhaps even at your oncologist, at the waste of time and energy for everything you did to help prevent disease. Anger can show up in the form of frustration in daily activities and with the people around you.
  • Depression.
  • Feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Grief and a sense of loss over such subjects as:
    • The loss of the feeling of health and well being you had prior to finding out about the recurrence.
    • The loss of the future and the opportunity to do the things you’ve planned on doing
    • The loss of relationships which ended
    • The loss of career opportunities you had to forego to have treatment.
    • All the other losses you’ve suffered in life.
    • The shaken, or entire loss, of faith in the medical system
  • A loss of trust in the medical system in general or your oncologist in particular, and perhaps your ability to make a reasoned medical decision or to rise to the challenges.
    • Weariness about facing treatment all over again.

Some people even contemplate suicide without realizing it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Friends, Family and Caretakers

While your main job at this point is to focus on yourself and getting the medical care you need, give consideration to the needs of the people around you, particularly your team of caregivers.

If they need help, suggest they speak with a mental health professional, join a support or self help group, and/or make contact with someone else similarly situated. Your doctor, his or her team or a social worker at the cancer center can likely make the connection.

The Holidays

If the holidays are approaching and you are having a difficult time emotionally related to colorectal cancer, learn how to cope by clicking here.


Eating nutritiously helps patients feel empowered and can extend life. 

People with advanced cancer may have a number of nutrition-related problems including the following. For information about coping with each of these difficulties, click on the link:

Following are nutrition suggestions from the American Cancer Society for people with advanced cancer: 

  • Make the most of the days when you are feeling well and your appetite is good
  • Keep nutritious foods and drinks handy, so they are ready when you feel like eating.
  • Eat small, frequent meals and snacks every 1 to 2 hours. For example, if eating a whole sandwich seems like too much, try eating it in quarters throughout the day.
  • Eat high-protein, high-calorie foods.
  • Avoid liquids with meals to keep from feeling full early (unless needed to help with dry mouth and swallowing).
  • Avoid the smell of foods while they are being prepared.
  • Eat the foods you like the most.
  • Eat with others and at a table if possible. Make eating as much of a pleasure as you can. Removing medical equipment and supplies may help improve appetite.
  • Try some type of activity before meals if you can to help increase appetite.
  • Don’t force yourself to eat.
  • Try to maintain your present weight, but don’t feel pressured to regain weight if you have already lost some.
  • Drink enough fluids to help keep your bowels moving regularly
  • Try liquid or powdered nutrition supplements when you don’t feel like eating.
  • Take all of your medicines exactly as prescribed.  Tell your doctor, nurse or hospice care team members about any problems or questions you have. Your doctor may be able to suggest a simple change in the dosage or timing of your medicines that will correct problem you might have. 

At Work


More information about this subject is contained in the Main Article in "To Learn More."

To Learn More

Main Section

Seeking Work

Having advanced colorectal cancer while seeking work adds a traumatic event to an already stressful endeavor.

You may be tempted to speed up medical decisions such as which doctor(s) to use and which treatments to undergo.  However, both of these decisions are important to your long term health and should not be rushed. In fact, as you will see in our document about your medical care, it is advisable to take the time to get a second opinion from a different cancer specialist before starting treatment.

If you will undergo surgery, consider at least getting treatment out of the way before continuing the job search. With surgery, you will likely need full days recuperating while physically not up to par. Your mental ability may be cloudy because of the anesthesia and pain medications.

If you will undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation, ask about how much time off would generally be required if you were working and how treatment would affect you while working. If there will be a major impact, consider getting those treatments out of the way as well before continuing your job search.

With respect to the job you are seeking, keep the following in mind.  

  • If you have health insurance:
    • Do not do anything that would affect your health insurance coverage for your existing situation. For example, do not let it lapse until you have health insurance, and are past any waiting period for coverage.
    • If a new employer offers health insurance: Thanks to a federal law known as HIPAA, if the gap in coverage between your existing or former health insurance that is not greater than 62 days, then the amount of time you had coverage is credited against a new waiting period. A waiting period is the period of time during which you would not be covered for a pre-existing health condition.  If you had your insurance long enough, there is no waiting period for coverage for your situation.”
  • If you do not have health insurance:
    • One of the options to get coverage is to look for an employer with health insurance which covers a pre-existing health condition such as yours with no waiting period or only a short one.
    • The larger the employer, the more likely to have such coverage. For example, a government entity.
    • For additional information about obtaining health insurance, click here.
  • Physically, the only question about work is whether you can do the work now. What may happen to you in the future is not relevant.
  • A prospective employer cannot ask about your health condition thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act and similar laws. 
  • Experts counsel against disclosing your health condition until you are offered a job.  Whether to tell after accepting the job is up to you. There may not be a choice if you will need an accommodation at work to allow you to take treatments or to do your job.

For additional information, see:

Self Employed


You may be tempted to speed up medical decisions such as which doctor(s) to see and which treatments to undergo due to pressing business matters. Both of these decisions are important to your long term health and should not be made on a rush basis. In fact, it is usually advisable to even take the time to get a second opinion about your diagnosis and treatment options from another cancer expert before deciding about a treatment plan.

If you are feeling pressure to act quickly for business reasons, consider asking a close family member or friend to help you with these decisions. 

Think about:

  • Which of your customers and professional network to tell about your diagnosis, when to tell them, and what to tell them.
  • How to continue your business during treatment and after. With mobile phones you can be in a hospital and people will not know where you are.
  • While you are doing planning, think about what to do in case of a disaster that affects your treatment center, your suppliers and/or your customers.

While it is not necessary to do at this moment, it is advisable to take the time to think through the various work and personal issues that could be affected by your diagnosis.  You may find that a planning day with your advisors may be helpful.

On Disability

If you are receiving a disability income, look at the rules to find out what constitutes work so you do not unwittingly break any rules and lose your income.

Returning to work will be easier for you and others if you stay in touch with former co-workers while not working. 

  • Keep co-workers informed about your situation and progress.
  • Talk to them on the phone, send a text or email, or appoint a trusted friend or family member to do this for you. 
  • When you are able, stop in the office. 

Before you return to work:

  • If there is a question whether you are physically and mentally able to work, consider volunteering  -preferably in a situation which helps get skills up-to-date, or perhaps to volunteer in a new area of work you are considering. As mentioned above, check to be sure that disability income will not be affected even if you volunteer from 9 - 5.  For more information, see: Volunteering.
  • Consider returning to work part time for a while to get back into the swing and not overtax yourself.
  • If you have been out of work for a while, think about what skills may need to be updated. For instance, learning the latest computer program, or the newest version of a program you are used to using.
  • Think about who you want to tell about your health condition and/or treatment, and how much you want to tell. Be prepared for a variety of responses.
  • Talk with your boss about what you can and cannot do so you are both on the same page. Your boss may assume that you will be able to resume where you left off and resume a full work load right away.
  • The thought of returning to a full workload of regular responsibilities can be overwhelming. If emotions begin to get in your way, speak with your doctor or a mental health professional.
  • Consider visiting the job ahead of time to catch up with co-workers and office news.
  • See: SSDI: Return to Work

Keep in mind that:

  • The only question is whether you are mentally and physically able to work now. What may happen in the future is not relevant. 
  • If you would prefer to work for another employer, job lock because of a health condition is a thing of the past. New employers cannot ask about your health condition thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar laws. Thanks to a law known as HIPAA, if a new employer's health plan has a waiting period for pre-existing health conditions, the amount of time you have previous health coverage can count against that time period as long as the gap between coverages is no more than 62 days.

When you return to work:

  • Let people know how you want to be treated. For instance, you may still not be able to work a full schedule, or you may need help accomplishing certain tasks, or you may need an accommodation such as being stationed close to a bathroom for a while. If you need an accommodation, you may be entitled to a reasonable one. Even if you are not entitled to it, you can negotiate for it. See: Work: How To Request  And Negotiate An Accommodation
  • Let people you work with closely know that you are not up to par yet either physically or mentally. They may expect you to be back to your pre-diagnosis self and performance right away.
  • Tell your boss about continuing physical or mental difficulties you are experiencing as a result of the diagnosis or treatment. Ask for an accommodation to help you do your work. You are likely entitled to one under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Start keeping a Work Journal in case you ultimately feel as if you are discriminated against because of your health condition. See: Work: Time Off Because Of Health
  • People may need to be reminded that cancer is not catching or that you are not dying.
  • People who return to work after treatment often become the "go to" person when a co-worker or a friend of a co-worker has any type of cancer. If this happens to you, set limits and let people know what they are.
  • If you have difficulties, read: If The Attempted Return To Work Is Not Successful 

Consider whether this is the time to become self employed or to start your own business. See:

NOTE: Survivorship A to Z also provides information about how to keep disability income. For instance, your rights if an investigator calls. See Disability Income Insurance: While On Disability

The Basics

Do your best to keep a realistically optimistic attitude. We refer to this as a “positive attitude.” 

  • There’s a reason for the adage “the glass is always half full and half empty.” Try to focus on the half full side. At the same time, keep in mind that we are all human.  Do not become a slave to being positive or wallow in guilt for those times when you aren’t.  (For tips about keeping positive, click here.) 
  • Keep in mind that even a 1% chance of long term survival means that one in one hundred people will survive. With appropriate treatment, there is no reason to keep you from being the person who survives.

Focus on what you can control. Prepare the best you can for what may come your way. For example:

You are not your disease. Do not let cancer define who you are. (For more, click, here)

When you have contact with an employer, governmental agency or insurer:

Managing Your Medical Care

This content is divided into two areas:

  • Treatments
  • If treatments are no longer working


The common treatments used for advanced colorectal cancer are the same as used for treating colorectal cancer in general. If you are looking for information about the available treatments and their practical effects:

  • For colon cancer, click here.
  • For rectal cancer, click here

If you are beginning to wonder whether now is the time to take an extended break from treatment, or to stop trying for a cure, and to instead focus on quality of life, our discussion can help clarify thoughts on the subject. Click here.


If your doctor told you that treatment is no longer working and there are no other standard treatments worth considering:

  • Did the doctor discuss previous treatments you took? If not, ask that he or she consider using them. There are times when a prior treatment works.
  • Is there any evidence to indicate that if you spread infusions over a longer period of time that progress can be slowed without causing undue interference with your life?
  • Consider getting a second opinion from a NCI comprehensive cancer cente offsite linkr or a cancer hospital affiliated with a top educational institution. Ideally, the opinion will come from a panel of doctors with different expertise rather than just one doctor. To learn about second opinions, click here
  • Check to see if there are clinical trials which involve cutting edge treatments that may work for you. For information about clinical trials in general, click here. To find out if there are clinical trials that may work for you, click here offsite link
  • Explore complementary treatments that can make your life better and possibly longer. If your doctor isn’t familiar with complementary treatments, look for an integrative doctor who combines so-called Eastern and Western medicine. Do not rely solely on complementary treatments. None have been proved to cure cancer.
  • Consider changing the goal of treatment from curative with concern about quality of life to solely quality of life (“palliative” care).
    • Before making a final decision, speak with the people closest to you for their thoughts as well as your spiritual advisor.
    • Consider the factors discussed in our document: Is It Time To Shift To A Goal Of Quality Of Life? 
    • If you decide to switch to palliative care, ask your doctor whether you can qualify for hospice care. If you don't ask whether there is a hospice that may be willing to bend the rules  - particularly if you are willing to pay out-of-pocket until you do qualify for hospice care.
      • Usually a life expectancy of 6 months or less is required to qualify for hospice.
      • Hospice care can be given at home as well as a hospital or other medical setting.
      • To learn about hospice care, click here

As one survivor put it: It is not our date of birth that matters, neither is it our date of death; what matters most, is the dash in-between.

If your doctor told you that treatment is no longer working and there are no other treatments worth considering ,get a second opinion from an NCI designated Comprehensive Cancer Center offsite linkor major educational institution. If you want to do your own medical research, click here. If you want to hire a research service, click here. Last, but not least, perhaps this is the time to consider shifting to a goal of quality of life instead of a cure. For more information, click here

As one survivor put it: It is not our date of birth that matters, neither is it our date of death; what matters most, is the dash in-between.

To Learn More

Government Benefits

Depending on your particular circumstances, you may be entitled to the following government income and health related benefits:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance, which is an income based on work history and being unable to work ("disability").
    • A claim for Social Security Disability Insurance is processed quickly becuase there is an assumption that you are "disabled" within the meaning of the law if you have a case of large intestine cancer with distant metastasis or large intestine cancer that is inoperable, unresectable, or recurrent. In these situations, you qualify for faster claim processing under the Social Security Compassionate Allowances guidelines.
  • Supplemental Security Income which is an income for people with a low income and minimal assets other than a house
  • Health insurance [through Medicare or Medicaid (known as Medi-cal in California) or the VA] 
  • Food assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps).

There are no government benefits which distinguish between colorectal cancer and other health conditions or whether your health condition is just diagnosed or is advanced.

For information about each of the above government programs, see the documents in "To Learn More."

NOTE:  If you do not currently qualify, you may be able to take steps to qualify. 


Insurance spreads the risk of a large loss which can be difficult or impossible to bear among a large group of people.

If it wasn’t clear to you before why you need at least health insurance, it was brought home by your diagnosis. There are other insurance products that can be just as important to your financial health (and ability to live your current lifestyle) if the risk they insure against happens. Just about the last thing that is needed is an uninsured large loss.


If you do not have health insurance:

  • Do whatever you can to get it. Despite your recent health history, there are a variety of ways to get health insurance. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act("Obamacare") you can purchase individual health insurance despite your health condition. It is likely less expensive if you can join a group plan offered by an employer or membership organization. The larger the employer, the more likely it will have a health plan for employees. (New employers cannot ask about your health history thatnks to laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act.)
  • Our document about Uninsured, provides tips about getting the care you need at a reasonable price, and possibly for free.
  • Keep in mind that all medical bills are negotiable.
  • Once you get health insurance,
    • Learn how to maximize use of it. (See the articles in “To Learn More.”)
    • Pay all premiums on time. Late payment is a good excuse for an insurer to cancel your policy.

If you have health insurance:

  • Do whatever you need to do to keep health insurance. Pay premiums on time. Health insurance is likely one of your most valuable assets if not your most valuable asset
  • Learn how to maximize use of your policy. Everything insurance does not pay for, you will have to pay for.
    • It helps to understand the concept behind the policy coverage to get an understanding of what is and is not covered. Underlying concepts are not difficult to understand. They give you an idea of what you can argue for the medical care you want is not covered. The documents in “To Learn More” provide information to help you figure out what general type of policy you have, the concepts, and how to maximize benefits. See:
    • If there are medical expenses that your insurance company refuses to pay for that you think should be covered – keep pressing the company. Appeal. Be persistent.  Experience shows that appeals are worth the time and effort. For tips about appeals, including how to rebut various insurance company arguments, click here. (Also see: How To Negotiate A Lower Medical Bill)
    • Also appeal If something you need is not covered by your policy but it can be done the way you desire for less expense than a way covered by the policy. For instance, appeal if hospitalization is covered but home care isn’t, and being taken care of at home is much less expensive while being just as medically effective. See: How To Appeal A Health Insurance Claim With The Best Chance Of Getting A Yes
  • If you have a tax advantage health savings account, our document see Tax Advantaged Health Savings Plans to learn how to maximize the benefit.
  • If you and/or your spouse leave a job through which you have group health insurance, you are likely to be eligible to continue the coverage under the provisions of the federal and state laws known as COBRA. You will have to pay the premiums yourself, but at least you will have the alternative.

NOTE: Survivorship A to Z provides information about maximizing use of a health insurance plan according to the type of policy. If you do not know what type you have, see Types of Health Insurance Policies and How To Know Which Type You Have


If you have an opportunity to get life insurance or increase the death benefit of any life insurance you already have, take it. In addition to the traditional reasons to have life insurance, you can get money from a life insurance policy while still alive if your have a shortened life expectancy. This is known as a viatical settlement or a life settlement (and is generally referred to as a “Living Benefit"). For information about these alternatives, including how to maximize what you receive, click here and here respectively.

Whether you have life insurance or not, you can still buy life insurance either individually or through an employer or an association or other group. See: Life Insurance 101


It is important for everyone to have basic insurance which includes more than health insurance. An uninsured large loss can be devastating –  especially when added to ongoing medical bills.

Disability Income and Long Term Care Insurance: You are not likely to be able to purchase Disability Income Insurance or Long Term Care Insurance on your own. Disability income insurance provides an income if you become unable to work. Long Term Care Insurance covers in case you need long term care.

You may be able to obtain disability insurance and/or long term care insurance from an employer such as the government.

You may also be able to qualify on your own in time. The longer the period after your episode of cancer, the more likely you will also be able to get Disability Income Insurance and/or Long Term Care Insurance.

Likewise, if you have disability insurance: check to see if the income will be enough for your needs if you become disabled. If not, start thinking about an opportunity to increase the benefit.

For information, see: Disability Income insurance and Long Term Care Insurance from the point of view of a survivor, see the documents in "To Learn More."

Homeowners Insurance: Automobile Insurance: Do your best to at least have basic insurance such as Homeowners Insurance (either the variety for an owner or for a renter). If you own a vehicle, have Automobile Insurance with limits at least in the amount required by your state. The following articles explain the coverage to look for - as well as what to do in the event of a loss.  Homeowners InsuranceAutomobile Insurance

For additional information, see: Property and Casualty Insurance

Planning Ahead

If you haven’t before, now is a good time to get your legal affairs in order. While you are thinking about it, this would be a good time for your entire family to focus on these subjects. Life changing events can happen to any of us at any time. (Shifting the focus to the family unit also takes away any fear on their part that you are taking these steps because of health news that you are not sharing).

At the least, consider executing documents known as Advance Directives which let you stay in control of the medical care you do or do not want if you become unable to speak for yourself or become unconscious. The documents are free, easy to complete, and don’t require a lawyer. Of particular note is a Health Care Power Of Attorney which appoints a person you trust to make decisions for you if events warrant – and enforce them if there is any push back. (See: How To Talk With Family About Your Wishes If You Become Incapacitated And Can't Speak For Yourself)

If you have children, make plans in case you are temporarily or permanently unable to care for them. For information, see Children 101.

Consider creating something like an Ethical Will which tells your children what you learned during your lifetime and family history. Or perhaps a video or photo scrap book of your times together.

Keep control of what happens to your assets if you die by at least having a will. Wills also help prevent family fights. Wills are not expensive, and may even be free. We provide a form to help you pull together the relevant information to make the writing easier – particularly if you use a lawyer to write it for you. See: Wills 101.

Thinking about, and talking about, funeral plans will save unnecessary stress and a good deal of money. This is known as pre-planning.  Pre-paying is not advisable (unless, of course, you’ve done it already). See: Funerals 101.

NOTE:  Check all documents, securities accounts and banks accounts with beneficiaries on them to be sure:

  • The beneficiary you want is listed. 
  • If there is more than one beneficiary, the split between them is clear.

Small Business Owner

You may be tempted to speed up medical decisions such as which doctor(s) to use and which treatment(s) to undergo due to pressing business matters. Both of these decisions are important to your long term health and should not be made on a rush basis. In fact, it is usually advisable to even take the time to get a second opinion about your diagnosis and treatment options from another cancer expert before deciding about a treatment plan. (See: Doctors: How To Work Effectively With)

If you are feeling pressure to act quickly for business reasons, a close family member or friend to help you with these decisions. 

Think about:

  • Which of your employees, suppliers and customers to tell about your diagnosis, when to tell them, and what to tell them.
  • How to continue your business during treatment and after. With smart mobile phones, pads and lap tops, you can be in a hospital and people will not know where you are.
  • While you are doing planning, think about what to do in case of a disaster that affects your treatment center, your suppliers and/or your customers.

While it is not necessary to do at this moment, it is advisable to take the time to think through the various issues that could be affected by your diagnosis.  (For example, what to do if there is a disaster.) You may find that a planning day with your advisors may be helpful.

For additional information, see:

Day To Day Living

If you have a recurrence of colon or rectal cancer and have not yet started treatment, it is worthwhile rereading (or reading for the first time if you didn’t read it before) our information and practical tips for living day to day between the decision as to which treatment to undergo, and the start of treatment. Click here

If you are in treatment, it is worthwhile rereading (or reading for the first time if you didn’t read it before) our information and practical tips for living day to day during treatment. Click here