Health Care Decisions

Illness such as Cancer, Parkinson’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), or Mental Illness can affect a person at any time without warning. This can often be an emotional and scary time.

If you have a significant health illness, it is important to have meaningful discussions with your health team to help you to understand your diagnosis and prognosis in order to decide on the type of care and treatment that you would like.

It is equally important to talk about your diagnosis and prognosis and your decisions about the type of care and treatment that you would like with those who care about you.
Communicating about your illness and treatment choices can sometimes be difficult because these are emotional conversations and your decisions may conflict with what well meaning, people in your life might believe is “best” for you.

When those who care about you have clear information about your illness and understand the reasons for your treatment decisions, they can better support you and each other.

Clear communication means that those who care about you will be able to support you based on your reality—the facts of your illness, what you want, and how you want it. NOT TALKING can leave those who care about you at a loss…not knowing how to best support you and each other.

“…I felt like a weight was taken off my shoulders once my family understood my diagnosis what treatment I wanted…. Now I feel confident that they will be there for me in the way that I will need them…”


  • Support you in making your decisions about your health care with your health practitioners if needed. This may involve attending medical appointments with you so that you can hear what is being said during anxious times.
  •  Support you and your health care choices.
  •  Help you to reason through the treatment options provided by your health practitioner, alone or with anyone else whom you want to have with you.
  • Help you to be clear about your health care decisions.
  • Help you articulate the values, beliefs and wishes that underlie the decisions that you have made.
  •  Refer you to other resources to get additional information or help. If counselling is needed, Communicating Matters will provide information about other resources to people who request help.


  • Help you decide who you want to tell about your decisions. This may be your family, your friends, or any other people who are significant to you.
  • Help you identify what you wish to share about your diagnosis, prognosis and treatment choices.
  •  Help you to anticipate the communication and relationship dynamics with the significant people in your life.


  • Create an open meeting environment with some rules and boundaries so that you can talk about and share the information that you wish to.
  • Support you in responding to the reactions and emotions of the people who are important to you as they hear what you are saying.
  • Facilitate the conversation(s) so that you can clearly share your information in a way that can be heard by others during times of anxiety and stress.
  • Support you in responding to the reactions and emotions of the people who are important to you as they hear what you are saying.