Starting the dialogue ... with specialty doctors amidst illness

Oncology, nephrology, neurology, cardiology, pulmonary, etc.

Receiving the diagnosis of a serious illness can be hard. It can be very overwhelming, especially as you learn about the diagnosis, the treatment process and the side effects.  

Your doctor will always consider what treatments to offer based on:

  • your current state of health
  • your current functional status
  • the availability of treatment
  • the benefit you would receive from treatment

Regardless of what the doctor offers for treatment, you always have the choice to agree or refuse the treatment. It can be hard to talk with your doctor about refusing treatment. Here are some questions that may be helpful to guide the conversation with your doctor:

  • What are the benefits of treatment?
  • What will I gain by doing this treatment?
  • What would my life look like without doing this treatment?
  • What would my life look like living with the side effects of this treatment?

Sometimes people choose to refuse treatment when the physical, social, and emotional side effects of the treatment become too much and will limit their quality of life. Refusing treatment does not mean that you are “giving up,” but rather choosing to live the rest of your life with quality and meaning.

Reviewing your advance care plan can also be helpful in making decisions about treatment options. It is important to make decisions regarding your treatments that align with your values and what would give you quality of life.

Lastly, it is important to know that refusing treatments does not mean that you will no longer be cared for. Rather, it means that your goals of care may change from maximum curative care to maximum conservative care. Medical advances have been made to help manage symptoms from illness to help people live comfortably.