If you have ever been in some kind of accident or have been hurt in some sort of way, a broken bone or even a headache, you know how painful those can be. For most of us we would have anything or do anything to make the pain stop and go back to normal, right? Now, let us take someone who has cancer and has been placed on a cornucopia of pharmaceuticals. Not many of us have felt what being in such a condition must feel like, but one could only imagine. Well for that cancer patient, similar to someone having a severe migraine, they are looking for something to stop the pain that they are feeling and “cure” whatever is wrong with them. Thanks to modern medicine we are able to temporarily or sometimes permanently “fix” specific conditions or illnesses that pop up in society, but not all of them. But what if medicine couldn’t save your life? Or make you feel better? What should it do?
So many different ideas came to mind, but ill limit myself to one. First off, if medicine couldn’t save your life then I couldn’t really find a real purpose for it in our world today. In our world today almost anything can happen to anyone at any moment. When I read the short story, “Letting Go.” by Atul Gawande, it really encompassed the idea that something bad can turn into something worse in an instant. Sara, the main character of this short story, was 39-weeks pregnant when she suffered from a collapsed lung. Results from testing showed that Sara had lung cancer and to make things worse, it had already began spreading. Her labor was induced and she gave birth to her baby girl, Vivian. Soon after doctors focused on how to “beat” Sara’s cancer and placed her on a variety of new drugs. Started with Tarceva, which caused extreme tiredness and rash, was supposed to fight the mutations in Sara but ended up not being the right medicine; strike 1. From that treatment Sara was placed on carboplatin and paclitaxel, but due to the paclitaxel causing a serious allergic reaction, it was switched with gemcitabine, A summer goes by and still her treatment ceases to show any progress and Sara is placed on…pemetrexed, another drug.
All of this “treatment” really made this upbeat, optimistic mother into a more stressed and fragile, cancer suffering mother. After the failure of the first prescription, she must have wanted anything to make her feel the way she was before this occurence and it seemed as if they were just testing medicines with minute certainty that those therapeutics would better Sara’s condition. If medicine was not going to fix a condition then at least it could have caused a greater pain relief so Sarah could spend more time with her new family and potentially had hospice care if she knew this cancer was fatal. Waning to be there with her family and that feeling must have been what kept Sara going a majority of the time while on those medications. If medicine were to have an alternate purpose from just saving your life, it would have to be a way to let you enjoy your last moments by helping you accomplish things you may haven’t been able to before; hospice treatment for example.