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This section is about some of the ways you can plan ahead and make choices about your future care.
The ways people can plan ahead vary across the four nations of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and there are also some legal differences. The web pages in this section are about the ways people can plan ahead if they live in England and Wales. If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland you should ask a healthcare or legal professional to give you information that’s relevant to that country.
This section tells you about various aspects of advance care planning, including:
It also has information about making a will|, organ and tissue donation|, and funeral planning|.
Planning for your future care is important in case you ever become unable to make choices yourself, for example if you were to become unconscious or lose capacity (the ability) to make decisions about treatment.
We hope this information answers some of your questions and helps you deal with some of the feelings| you may have.
We can’t advise you about the best ways to plan ahead for yourself. You may find it helpful to discuss what’s best for you with a healthcare or other professional, and someone close to you.
There are also two documents in this section that you can use to write down some of your wishes and decisions for your future care. One of these is a Preferred Priorities for Care document and the other is an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment document.
You may also want to discuss this information with our cancer support specialists.
Planning ahead is important for anyone regardless of whether they have an illness or not.
‘My dad was 57 when he died of advanced prostate and bowel cancer. Towards the end of his life he became ill very quickly and was unable to tell us where he wanted to be cared for. He was admitted to hospital and died there. Although he was well cared for, I can’t help thinking that if we could have turned the clock back and asked my father what he wanted, he would have told us that he wanted to die at home with his family, not in hospital.’ Julia
‘My dad was 57 when he died of advanced prostate and bowel cancer. Towards the end of his life he became ill very quickly and was unable to tell us where he wanted to be cared for. He was admitted to hospital and died there. Although he was well cared for, I can’t help thinking that if we could have turned the clock back and asked my father what he wanted, he would have told us that he wanted to die at home with his family, not in hospital.’
Many people think that they don’t need to make decisions about their future care unless they reach a time when they know that an illness, such as advanced cancer| or heart failure, can no longer be treated.
However, planning ahead is important for anyone, regardless of whether they have an illness or not. This is because none of us can say for sure whether we’ll always be able to make our own decisions about our care. For example, some people may become very ill unexpectedly, and be unable to make decisions about their healthcare or make any financial plans for their loved ones.
A diagnosis of cancer or other illness may start you thinking about your future care and what you’d want to happen if you were to become seriously ill. Even if you’ve been cured of your cancer or other illness, it’s still helpful to think about the future.
You can talk through your wishes or other plans with a professional and a loved one who you can trust. Remember that you are the expert on you and only you can know exactly how you would like to be cared for.
Content last reviewed: 1 September 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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