Helping Patients Face Death, She Fought to Live, tells the story of a 40-year old palliative care doctor who, when it came to her own end-stage cancer, was not able to follow the advice she gave her patients. She could not accept her impending death, did not get her affairs in order or sign up for hospice or other palliative support. Instead, she took on increasingly more aggressive cancer treatments, when standard medical practice advised against it, in a desperate bid to stay alive. Her choice added substantial suffering to her final days and, because she refused to admit she was dying, her friends and family were never permitted to say good-bye. Did she miss out on dying well? Clearly for her, it was the only way to go.
The choice is never easy. How does one ever know when it is time to stop fighting and surrender to death? A good medical fight can add years to your life. My sister, a 14-year breast cancer survivor, is proof of that. The story of a friend of mine with pancreatic cancer is less clear. While she did survive most of the three additional years promised by her surgeon, she lost the ability to digest her own food, never returned to work, and spent much of her time in bed reading. Was it worth it in terms of the cost both physical and financial? I think her daughter and husband would say it was. Knowing what she went through, I am not certain I would want to make the same choice. But then one rarely knows in advance the real impact of such medical decisions. Surgeons can be a bit hazy on what they mean by quality of life, giving a medical perspective rather than a clear picture of what it will be like to live from inside. The question of what to do is further clouded by our mass cultural phobia about death. If there is no afterlife, which a large portion of the population believes or fears to be true, than the fight to continue living even a little bit longer might seem worth it whatever the cost.
. . . And a Time to Die -- How American Hospitals Shape the End of Life.
Once again I invite you to share your stories, thoughts and opinions. How far would you go to preserve your life? Do you believe in an afterlife? What are your fears about dying, if any? Do you have a medical directive in case you are unable to make your one medical decisions?
RebaWritesforWidows - Christian help for widows on the grief journey written by a widow who is now healed and happy.
3 weeks ago