If your loved one decides to stop getting treatment

There are times when you and the person with cancer will not agree on decisions that are made. One of those times may be when they decide that treatment aimed at fighting the cancer is no longer worth the physical and emotional cost – they want to let the disease run its course. You may feel like they’re giving up, and that can be very upsetting and frustrating. You may feel sad or angry that they have decided not to seek further treatment. This is not the outcome either of you hoped for. You are both upset.

It’s important that you give each other the right to feel the way you do. Try to understand that the patient is tired of getting treatment and tired of feeling sick without seeing any clear benefits. Even though you may not agree with the decision to stop cancer-fighting treatments, it would be sad if you let your disagreement change your relationship.

Once you stop and think about it, you may decide to let go of your wish for more time with this person and focus, instead, on the quality of time that you have left. This is probably best for both of you. You might even have to talk about how the two of you will “agree to disagree” but still love and care about each other.

    Try to remember that this is the same person you have always known. This will help you relate to the person in the same way you have in the past.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: February 5, 2015

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