What if you or someone you love is diagnosed with a serious health condition?

by | Jun 22, 2023 | Serious Illness

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The information shared here are my personal and professional suggestions as a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse, Licensed Acupuncturist and End of Life Doula who has been called a Holistic End of Life Guide. They are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not provide medical or treatment advice and are not a substitute or replacement for advice from a mental health or medical professional. 

If you have a serious diagnosis, my heart goes out to you. I hope the following suggestions are helpful:

Get emotional support from loved ones, as well as professionals. 

Continue good lifestyle habits or improve the ones you have. Get enough rest, eat healthy, exercise, maintain  social connections, live every day in the present, and practice gratitude. 

Learn more about the diagnosis and use this information to ask your medical team questions: Medlineplus.gov, MayoClinic.org.

A Naturopath can offer naturopathic medical information and suggest treatments and helpful supplements which are complementary to your western medical care.

An Acupuncturist can help with common symptoms such as pain, fatigue, digestive issues as well as stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia. 

Take all your medications and supplements, and keep all providers up to date on what you are taking. Go to all medical appointments.

Look for in person or online support groups with people who have the same diagnosis. Some studies have shown this can help with quality of life and survival.

Learn more about palliative care. It is person centered care for individuals living with serious illness, focused on quality of life for the individual and their family. The individual may choose care to address their symptoms as well as care which is aimed at curing their illness. Let your medical team members know you are interested in a palliative care approach and ask questions.

Have conversations with loved ones and professionals about what matters to you.  What do you consider quality of life and what are your goals? Be an advocate for yourself and initiate those conversations with members of your medical team.

You have the choice to stop existing medical treatment or not start suggested medical treatment. Always discuss this with your medical team members. Ask what the possible consequences are of these choices.

If you have not already done so, complete an Advance Directive and designate a person to be your Health Care Representative in case you are not able to speak for yourself. 

Ask your doctor if signing a POLST (Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) would make sense for you. 

This is a difficult path ahead. Have compassion and patience with yourself, be persistent in doing all activities (lifestyle, medical recommendations etc) which can positively influence your symptoms and medical condition, and use any spiritual and religious practices which are helpful for you. Ask for support and allow others to support you!

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