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Nearing End Of Life From Breast Cancer

How To Maintain Control Even If You Become Unconscious Or Unable To Speak For Yourself

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In order to maintain control if you become unable to speak for yourself:

  • Execute a Health Care Power Of Attorney and/or other Health Care Advance Directives and Advance Mental Health Directive so your wishes can be known and carried out.
  • Even with Advance Directives, you will need the cooperation of your doctor.
    • If you have more than one doctor treating you, pick one to be in charge of following through on your wishes if you become unable to communicate for yourself.
    • Discuss your wishes with the lead doctor if you haven't already. Let the doctor know whether you want pain to be controlled to the maximum extent, even if that control could hasten your death.
    • If your doctor doesn't agree with your choices, and doesn't convince you to change your point of view, will he or she nonetheless carry out your wishes? If not, consider changing doctors. See: How To Switch Doctors
  • Talk with your family about your desires. If you become unable to communicate, they will likely be consulted no matter what you say in the Advance Healthcare documents. Even though doctors and hospitals are protected by the documents you sign, they do not want to be sued.  See: How To Talk With Family About Your Wishes If You Become Incapacitated And Can't Speak For Yourself

If you have already executed Advance Directives:

  • Revisit them to be sure they reflect how you still feel. What we feel when we’re healthy and what we feel when faced with an imminent situation may be very different.
  • If you executed them more than a year ago, initial them and add the date so people are sure you still feel the same way. Otherwise there can be an unreasonable delay while people argue over your wishes.

If you had a discussion with your Proxy about your wishes, have another one to reconfirm your current thoughts.

Let your proxy and the other people close to you know that we have an article that provides information about how to enforce advance directives if needed. See How To Enforce A Living Will And Other Advance Directives

NOTE: If you do not want heroic treatment, let family members and friends who are around you often know not to call 911 if your heart stops beating or your lungs stop working or another event that could lead to death occurs. It is difficult to stop treatment once it starts.

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