To understand how to address the emotional distress of terminal illness, let's look at the relationship between "peace" and "struggle" at the end of life (EOL).
In a recent post, I mentioned a research tool being used to assess patients' overall adjustment to end-of-life: a 12-item questionnaire with the acronym PEACE (Peace, Equanimity, and Acceptance in the Cancer Experience).
PEACE measures two aspects of patients' adjustment at the end of life: peaceful acceptance and struggle with illness. Terminally ill patients with high peacefulness scores and low struggle scores should report better quality of life (QOL). Indeed, they do.
But in a paper titled "Validation of the PEACE Scale," researchers discuss findings about patients' EOL planning:
Patients who had higher scores for struggle were more likely to have a living will, healthcare proxy, or durable power of attorney for healthcare.... [S]truggle with illness may be one aspect of emotional processing that allows patients to grapple with important issues around EOL care."
This suggests to me that maybe the distress caused by obtaining sound knowledge may be more than something to be endured. For Healthy Survivors, distress may serve as the push many people need to take action essential to getting good care and/or living as fully as possible at the end of life.