It’s your decision

The choices about your cancer treatment are yours to make. 

You may be happy to let a doctor of family member make decisions for you, but you should never feel pressured into a decision by anyone. It is about making the right decision for you.  

It may be that talking to your GP or a trusted friend will help with making these decisions.  

For some people talking to a buddy or someone who has been in a similar situation can be really helpful. The Cancer Connect buddy program run by the Cancer Council and other cancer organisations can help you to connect with other older people who have faced similar issues and decisions.   

Two older people being visited by a nurse.

Family members, friends and carers can have different opinions to you – they may want you to have aggressive treatment. Or, they might try to stop you from having certain treatments. If this happens, your cancer team can help you talk with your family and friends.  

Sometimes, it is best if your family and carers meet with you and your doctors to talk together about the treatment plan. Remember that you have the right to make your own treatment decisions. 

(Adapted from Cancer.Net – Cancer Care Decisions for Older Adults)

When making decisions about treatment, be guided by your values, the things in life that are important to you, and the most trusted people in your life.

When older people are not treated with respect

It is important that once you have made your decision, that this is respected by family, carers and your cancer team, even when others may not agree with you.  

Sometimes, after a cancer diagnosis, an older person may be forced into other decisions they do not want to make by people around them. This might be to make a decision about selling their house or handing over control of their finances.  

If you find yourself in a situation that you are uncomfortable with, tell a trusted friend, your GP, nurse, doctor or the social worker in your cancer team. They will be able to make sure you get the help and support you need.  

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Free and confidential help is available for older people regarding making decisions and having their wishes respected. Call 1800 353 374 ELDERHelp.  

Listen to what the Older and Wiser participants said about making decisions about their cancer care.