By Vicki Strong


As many of us are all too painfully aware, a change in health can happen to any of us and at any age. Whether you are fearful that you may be quickly facing end-of-life issues or your prognosis looks good, it is wise to make important decisions while you can.

Although people often refer to this as “end-of-life planning,” I like to take a far more positive and proactive approach and call it “life planning.”  This is not about dying, but about how you will live out your last days, on your terms, and in a way that gives your family the gift of not having to make decisions for you without knowledge of what you really want.

If you don’t designate the person you want to make your health-care decisions, someone else will be chosen for you who may not know your wishes.  If you don’t share your desires, your health care providers will do whatever they have to do to keep you alive, at any cost.  If you don’t share how and where you want to be cared for in your final days, your family is left wondering what is best for you and at what cost. Instead of leaving your family or friends with hard decisions, how much easier (and better) it is to have the hard conversations.

We know talking about advance care planning and end-of-life care is difficult. It’s hard to know what to say or where to start.
For many of us, starting is best done with others before you begin the conversation with the ones you love.  LMSDR is here for you, to help you get started, and to empower you to face these questions with dignity and a better understanding of the value of life planning. And to help you organize your paperwork so that those who have questions can find your answers.
We believe a valuable resource to help start, guide and document this discussion is Five Wishes. More than 30 million people have selected Five Wishes for their living will or advance directive.  It is a legally binding, stand-alone document in 44 states and the District of Columbia, and can be used as a basis for legal paperwork required in the other six states.  Best of all, it is not complicated “legalese,” but is presented in easy to understand language to help you express your wishes in the areas that matter most – the personal, emotional and spiritual, as well as the medical and legal.
Five Wishes will serve as a resource to guide you through planning, and as a means to legally document a health care surrogate, and clearly state your choices for medical treatment, comfort and care, as well as put down on paper what you want your loved ones to know.
Join our Zoom conversation on August 25, at 2 pm Eastern time, to learn more about Five Wishes and other life planning helps that will get you through the Hard Conversations. The conversation will be facilitated by LMSDR Board of Trustees Secretary Vicki Strong, who served as Director of Life Planning for several years for a large church (and used Five Wishes extensively in her seminars on advanced care and health care directives), and is a certified cancer support group facilitator.
If you can not join this meeting, but are interested in learning more about advance care and and life planning, we can provide you with a packet of materials to get you started. For $5, LMSDR will mail you one hard copy of Five Wishes, five purple LMS ribbons to help you begin the conversation with your family about LMS and you, and a brochure on Leiomyosarcoma and LMSDR as a resource for you and your caregivers.  Order with an email to Vicki at
(Note:  You can also order Five Wishes directly from the organization at a cost of $5 plus tax and mailing.)