As we all know by now, Senator McCain and his family have made a change in their care choices. He and his family discontinued curative care in the last thirty six hours of his life.
I love my husband with all of my heart. God bless everyone who has cared for my husband along this journey. pic.twitter.com/v27sEbboii
— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) August 24, 2018
Palliative care is not giving up. It is a recognition of patient and family wishes given likely prognosis. It is a way of supporting a patient to have the best possible quality of life in the time that they have left instead of seeking to incrementally lengthen the quantity of life.
When Senator McCain received his cancer diagnosis, a palliative care plan should have been discussed early on. Palliative care can, is and should be concurrent with curative care. The particular diagnosis that he had has extremely poor prognosis for anyone much less a man of his age. Planning and envisioning his future and his desires when he was in the mental and physical shape to have the energy to engage on those steps would and should be a good thing. It should occur whenever an individual is given a low prognosis diagnoses.
Bringing this back out to a broader perspective, we should all have our palliative care and end of life plans and discussions even before we get told that it is really important to figure out what we want. Talk through with your loved ones and your probable care givers about your values, your desires, your hard limits and your fears. Discuss what you want. And once those discussions happen, document them. AARP has a good site of state specific advanced directive documents.
Figure you what you want, and as times change, update your wishes. And make sure you document your wishes as they change.
Do this, so if you are given a low prognosis diagnosis, you can live your life as you wish instead of scrambling to figure out what it is that you want.