Patients & Visitors

Starting the Conversation

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Your Serious Illness

Talking about a serious illness isn’t always easy.

If you have been diagnosed with a serious illness, you may assume that your doctor will start a conversation about the progression of your disease, your future prognosis, and options for treatment.

However, your doctor may be waiting for you to ask the right questions. This sometimes means that these crucial conversations are delayed until a moment of crisis, such as a healthcare emergency.

Rather than waiting until a crisis unfolds, start the conversations with your doctor now.

To start, ask your doctor these questions:

  • Is there a cure for my illness?
  • If my illness does not have a cure, are there treatments that can slow its progression?
  • Will you tell me when it is time to begin hospice care?
  • If and when I decide that I no longer wish to pursue active treatment for my disease, will you continue to serve as my physician?

Your doctor won’t be able to tell you exactly how a specific treatment may affect you. However, by gathering all of the information, you can make informed decisions about your treatment, care, and wishes.