No Good Options

How to make decisions regarding our husband’s cancer treatment when there are no good options before us.

As a cancer caregiver, you are constantly faced with decisions. This is just one of the many hats you wear. Having to always make decisions about what to do next can be exhausting. You probably feel tremendous pressure and responsibility to make the right decision. Making decisions can be especially difficult when it seems there are no good options. When none of the choices ahead are desirable you may feel trapped. Its a terrible feeling. However, being in indecision also feels terrible.

Do We Stay Or Go?

My husband and I have been in this situation several times where it seems like none of our options were good ones. As I’ve mentioned before, we decided to seek treatment overseas in Austria with a cancer clinic that had experience with his type of cancer. A metastasis in my husbands intestine landed him in an Austrian hospital for three weeks during which time his cancer continued to grow. It felt like going home would be giving up, yet staying was just not realistic in my husband’s severely weakened state.

Indecision Feels Terrible

One thing I know is the state of indecision is terrible. You feel like your in limbo not moving forward. When we were in this situation, I kept reminding myself that taking action always makes me feel better, even if I’m dreading the things I need to do. Taking action is moving forward.

How To Decide

When you are in this position where it seems like there are no good options ahead, here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Recognize that you still have a choice, even if you don’t like the options you have to choose between. When we don’t like our choices, we tend to feel like we have no control and resist making the decision before us. Reminding yourself that you still have a choice is a way to get out of that resistance and move forward.
  2. List out all of your options. This is so helpful. You can do this on your own or with someone. Be sure to list everything even if you would never choose it. Sometimes just seeing the options before you on paper makes you realize there are more options than you may realize.
  3. Often we have attached meaning to the choices before us that may or may not be true. You may be making stopping chemo treatment mean that you are giving up on fighting cancer all together. You need to ask yourself if that is true? Really ask yourself and your husband these two questions for all the options you do not like:
  • What am I making it mean?
  • Is that true?
  1. Identify your result. Define what it is you are trying to achieve with this choice before you. Is it to have more support? Is it to have a better quality of life? Is it to find a cure to the cancer? You may have one result in your mind while your husband may have another. This is a conversation you need to have.
  1. Think about what you would advise someone else to do in this situation. This helps you be more objective and less emotional about the decision. It is usually so easy to give someone else advice and see clearly what they should do because you are not emotionally involved. Pretend you are a friend and can easily see what should be done in your situation.

Decide To Move Forward

Remember that being in indecision will weigh you down. Even if you dread facing this decision, it will move you forward. We can only learn more when we act.


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