Diagnosis of a life-limiting illness

When you are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, you’re plunged into a world of uncertainty. Will I get better? Will I be able to keep working? How is my family going to manage? Can I ever go away, or must I always stay close to the hospital, just in case?

You may be worried about becoming weaker, maybe because of the illness itself, or, perhaps because the treatment you’re receiving is very debilitating. You may be upset about changes in your body like weight gain or loss, or losing your hair, and wondering how you will live with the changes.

Certain diagnoses like advanced cancer, progressive neurological illnesses, or terminal cardio-respiratory diseases can be considered life-limiting as the probability exists that you may die from them. Unlike a sudden, severe stroke or heart attack that brings about unexpected death, the life-limiting illness provides a person with a chance to prepare, to anticipate that they will die in the months ahead, and thus to have the opportunity to put their affairs in order.

Recognition of serious illness

Some people will intuitively know as soon as their doctor names the illness that they may have just received a diagnosis of a serious, complex illness or life-limiting illness. Others will not be sure. An important question arises whenever we receive a serious diagnosis.

Might I die from this?

This is a valid question to ask of one’s doctor. What is my prognosis? How long do you think I might have? Might I die from this? Should I prepare for the worst?

For further information, please visit CareSearch

Further reading

Additional Living Well Dying Well resources to help you support someone in your network who is facing death.

14 + 15 =

Contact us

Contact Living Well Dying Well for more information, additional support or to provide feedback.

2C West Street, Lewisham, Sydney NSW 2049