Friday 30th September 2022 is Macmillan’s Coffee Morning and thousands of people will be coming together across the country to raise money for people living with cancer.
It was on a sunny Monday morning in July 2021 when my consultant tilted his head in a sympathetic way and said the words “Lauren, I am sorry, you have bowel cancer”. This was the moment my life turned upside down. I was 31 when I was diagnosed, and, at the time, I incorrectly assumed that cancer, and especially bowel cancer, was something that happened to people who were much older than me.
My treatment plan involved three operations and seven months of chemotherapy. I have been left with some lifelong side effects of the treatment, which I am learning to live with, but I am delighted that scans are currently showing no evidence of disease.
I was very pleased to return to work this summer. Now that I am back to work, I will be advocating to all that cancer, and indeed ill health in general, is not something that only happens to the “older” person.
With the above in mind, I want to encourage you to host a coffee morning on 30th September to raise awareness and to donate what you can to this invaluable cause. Alongside that, and although no one wants to think about it, it’s extremely important that you get your documents in order.
Having a well-drafted will in place ensures your estate is taken care of if the worst should happen. Making a will is often the last thing anyone wants to do, but ultimately it helps to look after those friends and family closest to you after you’re gone.
Similarly, a Power of Attorney – whether it be for property and financial affairs or your own health and welfare – nominates and gives authority to someone else to make decisions on your behalf. In the case of health and welfare this is only if you lose mental capacity to do so yourself.
The last document I’d like to outline for you, which you may not have heard of, is called a living will. These are sometimes known as an advance directive or advance decision. They allow you to express your preferences about your future treatment and what you want to do in certain circumstances.
Assuming the health emergency you are experiencing is covered in your living will, your wishes will take precedence. The more specific they are, the more effective they are; set out when they should be used and which interventions you do and do not find acceptable. A living will is valid from the moment it is signed.
While it may sound commonplace for a private client lawyer to talk about wills and a power of attorney, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of getting these documents in order if you are facing a serious illness.
Aside from that, I again encourage you all to raise as much money as possible for the wonderful Macmillan Cancer Support charity – so get the coffee brewing and start baking those cakes!