There is no simple or right answer to this question. There will come a time in many of our lives when we will be faced with this question. We will have to reach deeply into our souls, examine our lives and make a life and death decision.

There are many compelling reason to not simply accept our doctor’s suggested treament, but instead to let the disease take its course. What makes this decision even harder for us is that we never know what the exact outcome of the recommended treatment will have on us unless we try the treatment. Even if we had much better information as to outcome of the treatment, some of us are up for that challenges of treatment.

Our loved ones and our caretakers must respect our right to determine what is best for ourselves, no matter what they would choose if they were in our position. Certainly, they should try to make sure that we have the best
information available before we make any decision. If asked, loved ones and caretakers should give their opinions about what they think is best. They should ask questions of our doctors that we might not have thought of asking, in order to be sure that we have a complete understanding of our options and the ramifications of our deciding to stop or not start a treatment.

However, once we make our decision, everyone must get in line with that decision, and do the best that they can to accept it, even if they disagree. Moreover, most importantly, they need to love us the best way that they can, accepting in their hearts that it is our life and our decision.

On the other hand, when we make our decisions we must remember that there are many people who love us and want us to remain in their lives. We have spouses, partners, brothers, sisters, sons and daughter who depend on us and who do love us very much. Any decisions we make will affect them and so we must also consider them as we make our decisions.

Joel T. Nowak, Ma, MSW