I found this prompt to be quite intriguing in a way. Upon first reading it, I immediately envisioned a dying person who was suffering from a terminal illness and immediately thought that if a medicine cannot cure someone then its only other purpose would have to be to just relieve pain right? Well upon reading the story from the posted link, my perspective was slightly changed, and I felt like I was able to put myself in the shoes of someone who was dying from a terminal illness.
Although it is probably impossible to fully understand what a person goes through when they are told that they have a terminal illness, it is obvious that they are going to be devastated until the point where they nearly lose hope. Knowing that you have an illness that is going to soon take your life away makes it that much more easier to want to give up, and this is why the doctor may try to prescribe several different types of medications, even if they know that the success rate is slim to none. As a dying cancer patient, however, this may bring some hope and happiness between the patient and their family, and this may actually help the patient live longer. For example, in the story, the doctor first prescribed to Sara a chemotherapy drug called Tarceva, and stated to her that over 85% respond to the drug with some even having long term results. Of course with her life on the line, Sara was more than happy to hear this sugar-coated, “reassuring gloss on dire reality.” However, once the drug had failed to do its job, and the doctor told her that it wasn’t working, she had a violent physical reaction to the news, causing her to have diarrhea. This was followed by several other drugs that were prescribed to her with supposedly good success rates, each with the same negative results.
Of course the doctors do all they can to attempt to help relieve the pain and suffering of their patient, but it gets to a point where medicine is not enough alone. Its almost as if the doctors are prescribing mental therapy in a sense in order to help their patients cope, and this is good since it is there job to help their patient feel better overall. Although medicine is usually used as a pain reliever or as a cure from an illness, it is often also used as a tool of comfort and relief for the patient when they are too ill to be cured. This can provide the patient with a reassuring sense of hope, and sometimes that is all that is needed to make the patient with the terminal illness to live longer and better.