How do I adjust to life after the treatments are done?

For much of our lives we go about assuming that today will be like yesterday, and tomorrow will be like today. We feel safe. But when things like cancer come out of nowhere, we lose that sense of safety – and we lose our confidence about tomorrow. The truth is, we never really had the […]

Can I be on hospice for longer than six months?

Yes! A person can qualify for hospice services beyond six months if they still have a terminal diagnosis. Medicare allows this for two reasons: estimating life expectancy isn’t exact, and hospice care often helps people live longer than they would without it.

How will I know if I’m cured?

We can estimate your chances of cure accurately, and if you want to talk to your doctor about this, you should ask. We don’t mind answering these kinds of questions.  But even if we know a specific probability, such as 85% cured versus 15% not cured, we can’t know whether you’re in the 85% or […]

Should I join a cancer support group?

Yes. It really is that simple. You think you don’t need it, or won’t benefit from it. You’re mistaken. Try it. You may not need it for long. Maybe only once will be all you need. But no one other than a group of people going through the same thing will ever understand. Not even your doctor.

Does insurance cover hospice care?

In the United States, all patients covered by Medicare receive complete coverage for all hospice services provided in the home. Many non-Medicare insurances also provide generous coverage for hospice services, though you should check with your insurer or hospice provider if you’re not on Medicare.

Can I be on hospice while I’m receiving cancer treatment?

Usually not. In most cases, hospice care can only begin when active cancer treatment ends. There are exceptions, the most notable being pediatric cancer. Some agencies are piloting concurrent cancer treatment/hospice care for certain specific cancer situations. But these are rare exceptions and may not be available.

Will I die sooner if I go on hospice?

It’s actually the other way around – multiple studies have clearly shown that early hospice enrollment helps patients live longer and better than those who waited.

When is hospice appropriate?

For patients with incurable cancer, hospice care should begin immediately when cancer therapy is discontinued or opted against. Hospice care works by being proactive, so that means it can only be effective if it starts before you think you need it. It’s a bit like auto insurance – you have to have it in place before the accident occurs. Formal eligibility requirements state that patients should have an approximate life expectancy of six months or less. These estimates sometimes pose a psychological barrier to patients and physicians, who either don’t want to restrict their hopes or worry if they outlive the estimate that they’ll get in some kind of trouble. But neither of these things are of real concern. There’s nothing about a having a limited life expectancy that prevents you from being pleasantly surprised by living longer. And hospice agencies have a system in place for re-certifying eligibility at the end of six months if you’re still doing well. Don’t let the average life expectancy requirements prevent you from getting the help you need, or limit your hopes of being above average. Because we’ll be right in there hoping with you.

When do I need hospice and what is it?

All patients with incurable cancer eventually reach the point where cancer treatments no longer have anything to offer. This may be because they’re no longer strong enough to tolerate the treatment, or because they no longer wish to continue them, or because we’ve simply run out of treatments to try. When we reach that point, beginning hospice care immediately can be very beneficial to patients and their loved ones. Hospice care is a proactive form of preventative and supportive care that helps you adapt to your changing needs and symptoms. And it’s usually provided at home. A specialized team of nurses, social workers, and volunteers will make regular visits to check on you. They’ll assess your symptoms, modify your medications if needed, and may even help you and your family modify your home environment to accommodate you. They’re also available at night or on the weekend if you’re having a problem.