Don't tell me when I'm going to die

Mr. Scheier’s wife, Amy, was 50 when she was told she had cancer. She learned that the five-year survival rate was zero, and if left untreated, less than a year. She didn’t want to know any more. So while she jumped into treatment and took all the chemo her doctor ordered, she kept working, seeing friends and traveling, choosing not to pay attention to her prognosis.

On what would turn out to be their last visit to her oncologist, Mr. Scheier asked his wife if she’d changed her mind and now wanted to know how much time the doctor thought she had left. She said yes. The answer was a couple of months. She died the next week.

It’s not clear whether the Prognosis Declaration will ever find its way into standard medical practice. But the fact is it belongs in the hands of patients rather than doctors, anyway. It’s a springboard to help people think through how they want to be cared for when they’re in a vulnerable state and need to make decisions.