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Everyone’s life crashes into a serious illness sooner or later. Maybe it happens to you, maybe your spouse, or maybe someone else close to you, but no one is immune. Fear and uncertainty arrive at the moment of diagnosis, weighing down patients with an overwhelming question: What do I do next?
This article is meant to guide patients and their loved ones and friends through the frightening maze of questions, choices, and challenges following the diagnosis of a serious illness. Several of the points made here refer specifically to cancer, but most of the information applies to all major illnesses.
To put this together, we’ve collected advice from doctors, social workers, insurance experts, psychiatrists, and lawyers—and from personal experiences, including my own. Before we were married, my wife battled Hodgkin’s disease twice, through chemotherapy, radiation, and a stem-cell transplant. We’re now in our fourth year of happy, healthy marriage.
illustrations: Harry Campbell