Two medics roll Mrs. M into the emergency department. Sweat drips from her forehead. Her chest heaves in and out as she tries to suck every last oxygen molecule from inside the oxygen mask. I introduce myself and she opens her eyes but her glassy stare lands beyond me. “She has metastatic breast cancer,” says one of the medics. “She’s in hospice. But her son wants everything done.”

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Frederick Bannon Jr. was by his mother’s side in intensive care as she fought a rare form of muscle cancer in late 2014. She was heavily sedated, but he felt confident making medical decisions for her, thanks to his family’s advance care planning

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