The Crosswalk

A resource for navigating serious illness and end-of-life care decisions

take a deep breath

In a quiet place, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and go inward. Place your attention on your heart, in the center of your chest. Sit quietly and easily let your attention remain there." - Deepak Chopra

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Determining What Care is Best

After receiving a serious illness or life-limiting diagnosis, taking time to breathe and care for yourself emotionally is important. Often, we can feel pressure to make treatment or care decisions quickly, even before we fully understand our situation. Take time to center yourself. Breathe. Seek support from loved ones. Find comfort from your places of emotional and spiritual strength. Then get your questions answered before moving forward.

It is common to feel confused about one’s diagnosis and prognosis, even after the doctor has explained it to you. Ask your doctor to listen as you share your understanding of your health situation, and then ask the doctor to correct any misunderstandings, or to explain things in more simple terms.  If possible, ask a trusted person to accompany you to doctor visits. 

Below we have provided helpful questions to ask your doctor to gain more clarity and help you decide what treatments or care will best meet your goals and values. To download a copy of the questions to take with you, please scroll down. 

Questions to Ask Your Physician

When considering treatment...

  • Could you please explain my diagnosis in simple terms so I can clearly understand?
  • Given what you know about the diagnosis, what is my outlook or prognosis?
  • What are my treatment options and how soon do I need to make a decision?
  • What are the pros and cons of my treatment options?
  • Is this a standard or experimental treatment? How will it benefit me?
  • Is the goal of this treatment to cure my disease? Is the goal to relieve symptoms or prolong my life?
  • Will I have side effects from the treatment and if so, how can you manage them to keep me comfortable? How long will these side effects last?
  • If I choose not to pursue this treatment, what will happen next? Will you continue to be my doctor?
  • Are there other ways to manage this disease than what you have proposed? Would you recommend them or not?

Other Questions to Explore

  • Will these treatment options be covered by my insurance?
  • As this disease progresses, what support will I need to manage my activities of daily living (home care chores, bathing, shopping, meal preparation, etc.)?
  • What community organizations or resources might be helpful to me in managing this disease?
  • Are there community resources for my loved ones as they support me?

The content on this website, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and all other materials, is for educational and informational purposes only.  The content is not meant to be complete or exhaustive or to be applicable to any specific individual's medical condition. The Foundation has done its best to ensure that the information provided on this website and the resources available are accurate and provide valuable information; however, no material on this website is intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The Foundation assumes no duty to correct or update the website nor to resolve or clarify any inconsistent information that might be a part of the website. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from or through this site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your licensed physician or other medical care provider. 

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