ACP Day – Stories

How Well Do You Know Me?

Story from BC Centre for Palliative Care

When it comes to a health crisis, you may think those close to you know what you want.

But do they?

In the case of Sophie Leung*, she had no idea of her mother’s wishes. When her mom, Faye Leung, ended up in emergency and unresponsive after a critical fall, Sophie authorized all interventions available to keep her mom alive. It wasn’t until her brother Wayne returned from a business trip several hours later, that she learned her mom’s wishes were to let her life end as nature intended — without life support interventions.

Faye had lived for years with progressively worsening symptoms of MS (multiple sclerosis). Wayne revealed that he and their mom had the “What if” conversation … what if she’s taken seriously ill and can’t communicate; what if she ends up in hospital; what if…

He knows — because Faye had shared with him over dinners and while watching TV together — that if anything were to happen to her, she wouldn’t want to be hooked up to machines.

It made Sophie realize that her mom had shared her wishes, her wants, and her values with Wayne who lives nearby their mother. Faye’s wishes were not what Sophie thought.

Starting a How Well Do You Know Me? conversation is part of a process known as Advance Care Planning.

Advance Care Planning involves talking with those close to you about your health-care wishes, and deciding who speaks on your behalf if you cannot.

These conversations become a gift to the people closest to you who can support and honour your health-care wishes. This way, in a time of health crisis, if you’re able to communicate, you will make your own health-care decisions; but if you cannot communicate, they already know your wishes.

April 16 marks Advance Care Planning Day across North America.

It’s a day to highlight the value of conversations, of finding out, How Well Do You Know Me? Your family, friends and health-care providers may need to make decisions for you if you cannot. You may be surprised at what they don’t know about you!

Confirm you are on the same page!

To start a How Well Do You Know Me? conversation – use the Conversation Starter and other helpful resources that are available at www.bc-cpc.ca/acp. 

*The Leung Family story is a composite to help illustrate how having a “How well do you know me?” conversation well in advance of a health crisis is an important step in Advance Care Planning.