Nicky’s Story

The timing of Advance Healthcare planning day – 16 April 2017 was very appropriate for my husband and I as a week earlier he had been diagnosed with cancer of the tonsils and neck.

Although the conversation was hard, having this diagnosis made it a little more timeous as we entered into the frightening roller coaster journey of cancer treatment.

Although the oncologists assured us this cancer was curative the radiation and chemo therapy were very aggressive, and my husband was admitted to hospital for five weeks. He was no longer able to take in food orally due to the radiation damage in his mouth, but he was fed intravenously. He lost 20kg and I saw him fading before my eyes, but he bravely fought on for his life.

We found the Advanced Healthcare planning document so practical and it made us come face to face with the possibility of death and what my husband’s wishes would be leading up to this. We discussed his wishes regarding ongoing treatment and if the time came to withdraw treatment he would like to be cared for at home with the assistance of our local hospice. We discussed his memorial service and he shared his favourite hymns which he would like as part of the Memorial service.

Five months later after hearing the good news that the treatment had been successful but sadly it had spread to a lymph node under his arm and a few small nodes in his upper chest. We were devastated and this once again brought us to place where we really had to face reality and the next round of treatment.

We went away for a long weekend and again tackled some hard issues, including our fears. It was good to share the fears, so that we both knew what we were dealing with.

I would highly recommend everyone having an Advanced Health Care plan and to not leave it until you hit a health crisis but to discuss it when life is going well. This was highlighted for me recently when I met up with a friend whose husband went into a coma very suddenly and they never had time to discuss his wishes and in their case the issue of switching off the life support machine.