What to Do When You’re Diagnosed With Terminal Cancer

a doctor using a laptop

Being diagnosed with terminal cancer is an incredibly traumatic event. It can change everything. Suddenly, you’ll be facing down one of the most difficult journeys in life, balancing a laundry list of upsetting and confusing chores even as you wrestle with the emotional trauma that comes with receiving the worst news possible.

At times like this, it’s hard to know what to do. Here are a few pieces of advice.

Consider your health care options

A cancer diagnosis is always a big deal, and it can make you feel as if everything in your life has come to a sudden halt. But that’s not true, of course, and you still have things you’ll have to take care of — including health concerns.

Now is the time to consider your health care options. You may want to confirm your diagnosis or get a second opinion, depending on the likelihood of any mistakes. Modern cancer detection is accurate, explain the experts behind Ezra MRI, an MRI device that uses artificial intelligence to detect cancer in patients. Still, you may want to check with another expert or ask your current doctor about any other tests you may need to take to further clarify the diagnosis. After that, you’ll want to start right in on making a treatment plan. Weigh your options and take your doctor’s expert advice, and start down the treatment path that will give you the best possible care.

Not everything you learn at this stage will be easy to hear, but it’s important for you to learn everything that you can about the state of your health, the disease you have, your options for treatment, and how your treatment choices will play out going forward.

Organize yourself

A treatment plan can involve a lot of appointments, medical bills, and doctors to follow up with. It can all get a bit confusing. Then there are many other things that you’ll want to consider right now, like your will and end-of-life plans, tax concerns related to your estate and medical expenses, and personal things like the need to tell family members and friends who haven’t heard yet. It’s a lot to deal with, so you it would serve you well to get organized.

Choose a method that you’re comfortable with, and get all of the information that you need in one place. Make sure that your medical appointments are logged in a calendar of some sort, that relevant paperwork is kept in one spot, and that you’re on top of all of the different tasks by keeping a checklist. 

Take care of your finances

What’s happening to you right now is bigger than any financial concerns. Unfortunately, however, financial issues won’t go away just because you have bigger things on your plate. And, given the high cost of health care, you could easily see your financial situation worsen after your diagnosis.

That’s why you need to stay on top of your finances and explore all of your options for keeping your books balanced during this difficult time. One option that you may want to consider is a viatical settlement. Viatical settlements are agreements under which a person sells a life insurance policy. The purchaser of the policy takes over the premiums and acquires the rights to the eventual life insurance payout, while the original beneficiary gets a large, lump-sum cash payment in exchange for selling the policy. Having cash in hand can be a huge help when you’re dealing with medical bills, and viatical settlements have tax advantages, too. Viatical settlements are designed specifically for those in situations like yours — a relatively short life expectancy is a requirement for the agreement.

Living with a terminal diagnosis can be incredibly difficult. This is an emotional time, yet your real-world responsibilities will only grow. Do everything that you can to stay organized and focus on the important tasks you need to tackle right now, but don’t forget to seek the support that you need from loved ones and mental health professionals such as counselors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.