Taking a moment to plan

Many people take the time during or after their treatment to plan ahead. This is called advance care planning. There are a few ways you can plan ahead and several legal documents you can use too. Your healthcare team will have more information about these.

It’s a good idea to plan ahead while you are still well enough to do so. Writing down your preferences and wishes is a good place to start. Below are a few things you can begin thinking about:

  • How would you like to be cared for when you become less well?
  • Where would you like to be when you are approaching the end of your life?
  • Who do you want looking after your affairs when you’re no longer able to?

It can also be beneficial to appoint somebody who could make decisions on your behalf, if you find you’re unable to. This is called a power of attorney, and they can make decisions about your property and finances, or your health and welfare.

You can talk about advance care planning with your GP, specialist doctor or nurse, or palliative care team. It can also be helpful to speak with family and friends.

Video conference with GP

Decisions about your treatment

Before you start a new treatment, you may find it helpful to get as much information from your care team as you can. Your doctor should be able to tell which treatments are suitable and give you an idea of the severity of side effects. The decision lies with you and no decision will be final without your consent.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask your doctor about your treatment:

  • What treatment options are available to me?
  • Is the aim of the treatment to control my symptoms or help me live longer?
  • If I choose to have the treatment, how much longer will I live?
  • What happens if I don’t want the treatment?
  • Are there any side effects to this treatment? What are they?
  • Will I still be able to work on treatment?
  • Will I need to stay in hospital while receiving the treatment?

When discussing with your healthcare team, you may want to focus on the things you enjoy and what you would like to achieve, as well as your current living situation so that these can be taken into account when deciding your treatment plan. Indeed, some treatments have more severe side effects than others and considering how they will affect your day-to-day life and how to manage them may help determine a treatment better tailored to your needs. No one side effect is certain when you receive a cancer treatment, therefore healthcare professionals can only give you a list of most likely or most commonly experienced symptoms.

Managing pain and fatigue

If you find you are experiencing pain, your doctor may be able to prescribe different treatments for it.

Some treatments can cause fatigue. You might notice you are becoming tired much more quickly and your body may not feel as strong as it did previously. Fatigue can happen as a result of the treatment prescribed or the cancer itself.

Here are some simple tips which may help you manage your fatigue:1

  • Try to conserve energy if you are feeling fatigued for the things you really want to do.
  • Try to include rest/sleep in your daily routines/activities. Regular rest periods can help you manage energy levels.
  • Listen to your body – if you begin to feel tired, make sure to rest.
  • Keeping active can boost your appetite, give you more energy and improve sleep. It is best to start slowly and balance with rest.
  • Eating well can help you keep or regain your strength and give you more energy.
Older and younger women

Meet the patient advocates
making moments count

Our campaign has been created with insights from patients. Follow the journeys of Claire, Laura and Juliet as they share their stories. Learn about their experiences so you know what you may experience in your own journey.

Juliet FitzPatrick

Juliet FitzPatrick

Laura Middleton-Hughes

Laura Middleton-Hughes

Claire Myerson

Claire Myerson


  1. Macmillan Cancer Support. Cancer information and support. Tiredness (fatigue). Available online at: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/impacts-of-cancer/tiredness [Last accessed: September 2021]

UK | SEPTEMBER 2021 | 124223



You know you best

Make your next appointment count

Your healthcare team is your best resource throughout your treatment. Talk openly and often with them about your doubts, questions and concerns. It might make you feel more in control if you take some time to plan for your appointment. Making notes before, during and after can help you retain information and make the most of your visits. We have developed a guide to support you in having these conversations with some tips to help you get the information you need.

Download your Moments That Count appointment guide.

Moments That Count has been developed and funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited. It has been created in collaboration with secondary breast cancer patients whose knowledge and insights have informed the content and direction for the campaign.

This website is part of a programme that is funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited. Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited is a private limited liability company registered in England and Wales under number 119006. Registered office 2nd Floor, The WestWorks Building, White City Place, 195 Wood Lane, London, W12 7FQ. Use of this website is governed by our Terms of Use and the Cookies and Privacy Policy.

Reporting side-effects

If you get side effects with any medication you are taking, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse.This includes any possible side effects not listed in the information leaflet that comes in the pack. You can report side effects via the Yellow Card Scheme at https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/. By reporting side effects, you can help provide more information on the safety of your medication.

©2022 Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd - UK | September 2022 | 124182-1 | This site is intended for an audience in the UK.