Understanding an Advance Medical Directive can be confusing, how to start the conversation

Virginia Cancer Specialists Practice Blog

April 05, 2018
Virginia Cancer Specialists » VCS Practice News » Advance Care Planning » VCS Practice News » Advance Medical Directive » Understanding an Advance Medical Directive can be confusing, how to start the conversation

National Advance Care Planning Week

If you were unable to speak for yourself, who would you want to speak for you? And more importantly, what health care decisions would you want them to make? Between 23-27 of April this year, we’re encouraging everyone to discuss their future health care preferences with their loved ones.

Life moves at a fast pace for most us until we are faced with an illness that stops us in our tracks and changes our world.  We then need to make quick decisions for planning our medical care, for our families and much more.  You may be requested to provide your doctor or hospital with an Advanced Medical Directive.  Often this has not been on the top of our priorities so we are faced with the task to complete an Advanced Medical Directive in a time of crisis.   Each year National Healthcare Decision Day is recognized to bring awareness to the public on the importance of having this important document and completing it before a crisis happens to you or a loved one.  Having this conversation with your family or loved ones can be difficult but it is one that we should all consider having sooner rather than later.  Starting this conversation with our family and loved ones is important and can offer support to your family when hard decisions need to be made on your behalf. Taking the time to gather information and ask questions of your medical team, discuss with your family before you complete this document, assures you that your wishes will be honored by the medical community and your family or loved ones if you are unable to communicate this information yourself. This is one gift we should all consider providing to our families and loved ones so they will have peace of mind to know that your wishes are being honored.

How do you start this conversation without upsetting everyone?

There are many ways to begin the conversation perhaps, from a recent illness your family or a friend just had or you can state that your doctor or medical team needs to have this information as part of your medical chart. These are a few suggestions that can open the door for you to express your wishes and lift the burden from your family or loved ones. The Conversation Project website is also another great resource you can access to help you take this first step.


Understanding an Advance Medical Directive can be confusing. Here at Virginia Cancer Specialist, we have a team of professionals that can help you understand and answer many of your questions. Ask your Oncologist, Nurse Practitioner, our Palliative Care Doctors or Oncology Social Worker who can help clarify and assist you as you make these important decisions.

Take the first step on April 19th and engage in National Healthcare Decision Day to start your conversation and prepare yourself to complete your Advance Medical Directive.

Virginia Cancer Specialists will be offering the opportunity for you to receive more information on this topic as we engage in National Healthcare Decision Day so please follow our website for this information.