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How to Navigate Life with a Serious Illness

Getting diagnosed with a serious condition is really difficult, as it doesn’t only impact you physically, but also mentally and in the various roles of your life as a parent, child, colleague, or friend. A serious illness can create some chaos, but it’s important to try and keep your head above water and still live a fulfilling life. This is where palliative care can really help.

When considering palliative care, many people will only know it as end-of-life care, but in fact it is much more than just that. Palliative care is supportive care with the goal to improve one’s quality of life. To ‘palliate’ means to reduce the effects of the disease without removing the cause. Therefore, palliative care is a very comprehensive form of care, where caregivers will help to alleviate symptoms, suffering, and provide emotional and familial support.

A serious condition can easily take over your entire life, as the centre of your life becomes about the disease, rather than you as a person. Navigating your illness is important to gain control over your own life. How to best navigate your illness is different for every individual, but there are some things you can do to try and find the way to your happiest self.

Accept that you have this illness and its outcome

Don’t try to fight your diagnosis. Accepting it will give you power over it, and once you have power over your diagnosis, you are in charge of how it affects your life.

Get a treatment plan that suits you

There are many treatments available for the diseases out there, but these treatments will not always be curative. Discuss what your expectations of the treatment should be with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to give you a good overview of your options and how they will  affect your health and life. Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you fully understand and are comfortable with the treatment plan your doctor proposes for you.

Set goals

Set goals regarding what you want to do during this time. What are the things you want to be able to do? Prioritise them. Don’t set too many goals or stress yourself out trying to achieve them, these goals should be joy-giving and productive. It’s helpful to have small projects for yourself as these will distract your mind from the disease and the treatments you may be getting.


Communicate with your family, friends and caregivers about how you feel; what you need; what you want and how they can best help you. Good communication will not only help you, but will also be extremely helpful for those around you. It’s a really hard time for them too, and communicating means they won’t have to second-guess what you want and need them to do.

Don’t lose hope

Even if you have a terminal disease, never lose hope. Life will come to an end for all of us, so use this time to make peace with this universal reality and spend as much time as you can with your loved ones.   Try to turn this time into a positive and use the time you have left to enjoy life, your family, your friends and all the good this world has to offer to the fullest.

Surround yourself with the people you need not just want

We all need people around us to experience life with. Try to surround yourself with the people you need as well as those you want to be around you. For example, do you need more care? Get a caregiver. Do you need somebody to talk to about things you don’t wish to share with the people you know? See a therapist. If you need to just vent, then call a friend and open up to them. Know who you need and make sure they know their role in your life, so that they can be available when the time arises.

Ultimately, the reality of having a serious illness is extremely difficult, but finding a way to navigate your illness rather than giving it space to disrupt your life will empower you to still do things you love, and live a fulfilling life with those that you love. In turn it will transform a painful time into a time of love for the family and friends caring for you.

At Cera we offer palliative care. We have highly trained care workers that will ensure that your loved one is properly looked after and taken care of.  Visit for more information on how we could best help, or call us at 020 3034 4784 to speak to our team about how Cera could help you in your care needs.

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