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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