Living with Dying

20 August 2019

Dry JulyFull transcript

Expert interviewed in this episode:
Dr Megan Best, Palliative Care Specialist & Researcher

Dr Megan Best talks about the role of hope and purpose in advanced cancer

The thing about advanced cancer is that it does make you think about mortality.

While some people can live for many years with advanced cancer, others know they may have only months or weeks left. If that is the case for you, how can you make the most of whatever time you have? And how do other people cope with the fact that they are dying?

In this episode of The Thing About Advanced Cancer, Julie sits down with Dr Megan Best, a palliative medicine specialist, to tackle these questions, and more.

Megan has spent years doing research on existential stress at end of life and how cancer patients cope with health care crises. She describes the shock of realising that the cancer cannot be cured as an “existential slap”, and explains that it often leads people to ask the big questions about their life, such as: What am I doing here? What was my life about? What happens after we die? Megan emphasises how important it is to support people as they work through these questions in their own way. 

Julie asks Megan about making the decision to stop trying to cure the cancer – to stop what is called “active treatment” of the cancer. Everyone is different, Megan says, and every advanced cancer experience is unique. Some people want to keep going with active treatment as long as they can, while others prefer to stop so they can focus on their quality of life, even if it means their time is shorter.

How do different people say goodbye when facing end of life? What is the role of spirituality? And what kind of impact can all this have on the family, friends and carers of the person who is dying, and how can they cope?

To hear Megan talk about these topics, and much more, listen to Living with Dying now, or find more episodes here.

Want more information or support? 

If you heard something mentioned in the podcast, you’ll find a link to it below. We’ve also added links to other sources of information and support.

From Cancer Council NSW

Other resources

Listen to Living with Dying now, or find more episodes here.