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2 Your Well-Being: 'All good lives deserve a good death,' the importance of advance directives

Triad couple shares importance of advance directives and how Cone Health helped them through the process

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Death is not an easy subject to talk about, much less think about, but one day we will all leave this Earth.

However, its important we talk about and plan for the time leading up to our death. In the medical world its known as advance directives. It means talking with family members and having a plan to make sure your last few years or months are spent how you wish.

This is something a Triad couple has been going through for the last three months.

"Cliff is my best friend. That's the way it started and that's the way that it is now," Tina Harris said.

It was a friendship turned marriage, and 14 years later Cliff and Tina Harris are living in their dream home in Guilford County.

However, their foundation was shaken when Cliff was diagnosed with stage four cancer.

"We planned on retiring here and hoped to live many years, but that's not the way life always happens," Tina said.

Treatments began immediately, along with palliative care, and creating Cliff's advanced care plan.

"All good lives deserve a good death, and it will happen to all of us so I think that we have to plan," said Dr. Elizabeth Golding.

Talking through an advanced care plan can be a painful process, but its an important one. Dr. Golding talks with patients about what quality of life is important to them and where they'd like to spend their final days.

"The important thing to know is that advanced care planning or care planning in the face of serious illness, has no agenda other than the patient's agenda," Dr. Golding said.

She also said a lot of times your illness may be beyond repair, but this is something you can take control over.

"What we found is actually people have their systems treated and have their goals and everything in place, they actually live longer and do better," Dr. Golding said.

Now Cliff is living proof of how palliative care can help. Most days he is pain free and gets to spend them with the love of his life.

For more information on how to get started on an advanced care plan, you can click here.