Planning for the Unexpected: For You & Your Family

Pamela Black, a nurse and breast cancer patient receiving treatment at Mary Bird Perkins’ Covington location, knows all too well that the unexpected can happen when it comes to health. She is also an avid believer in planning ahead to ensure your final medical wishes are carried out. Ensuring this happens on your terms, especially if you can’t speak for yourself, can be accomplished through an Advance Care Plan (ACP).

Pamela said she determined the time was right when she was diagnosed with a reoccurrence of breast cancer last summer.

3 scaled e1685623936115“I’m currently doing great and feeling well,” said Pamela. “So, I knew now was the best time to talk about this plan with my family. You don’t want to make these decisions during a stressful time, and if you can’t verbalize what you want, you don’t want to put your family in a situation where they are guessing what measures you’d want when it comes to life-saving or ending measures.”

As a nurse, Pamela knew she could be as specific as she wanted to ensure loved ones and healthcare providers knew in detail how she would want to proceed in an urgent situation. For instance, Pamela determined that should would not want to be fed through a tube, but she would want an IV line inserted so pain medication and other sedatives could be administered to keep her comfortable.

Angela Hammett, director of patient navigation at the Cancer Center, said that while it’s always a good idea for cancer patients to prepare an ACP document, everyone should have one. She said it can help alleviate stress and anxiety for families during an already challenging time.

“An Advance Care Plan isn’t a will or designates who receives property or other assets. This is strictly to determine your wishes if an injury or illness occurs,” said Angela. “I always counsel people to not leave this important part of life up to chance. Make sure it’s about what you feel is best for you.”

Mary Bird Perkins offers free information and resources for Advance Care Planning for cancer patients and others who wish to take this important step, including a free workbook that can serve as a legal document. For more information or assistance in designing your own Advance Care Planning with a professional, visit  or call (225) 215-1126.