NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer, Version 1.2017
Thinking about the unthinkable
What can I do to cope when time is limited?
What can I do to cope when
time is limited?
Realizing that your time on this earth is limited can be
hard to accept. You may feel devastated yet free at
the same time. Some patients with incurable cancer
note that the loss of the future can give back the
present, letting you to focus on activities that bring
you the most joy and satisfaction.
Use the times when you are feeling well to pursue
the hopes and dreams that are still within your reach.
Enjoy the company of the people you love and build
positive memories that will last when you are gone.
Some people use this time to prepare something
special that they can leave behind for their loved ones
Organizing and labeling family photos
Putting together a family tree
Writing letters to loved ones
Giving meaningful objects to people they care
Gathering favorite recipes into a cookbook
These kinds of activities are particularly helpful if you
have young children. Creating a video diary or journal
will allow you to share meaningful messages with
your child even if you cannot physically be there.
This can also be a time to reflect and work through
painful emotions for those people you love and are
leaving behind. If your treatment center doesn’t
have an end-of-life program, ask for a referral to
a counselor with experience in end-of-life issues
or to a support group for patients who are dealing
with incurable disease. Having a safe place to vent
your fear, guilt, grief, sadness, and anger will make
it easier to talk about these issues with family and