Medicine does a lot for us today. It relieves pain like headaches, muscle aches, fever, swelling, runny noses, and so on in the common home. In hospitals medicine is used for serious diseases that cannot be treated using over the counter medications. In the hospital setting, medicine relieves symptoms of illnesses and cures some that we have access to. The issue for those with terminal illnesses and diseases however, is when they should stop treatment or using medications or if they should stop. Ultimately, the question is what should medicine do for those who cannot be cured and medicines cannot save their lives?
After reading “Letting Go” I gained some new knowledge that helped me develop what I think medicine should be used for. From Sara’s story, one can see the optimism a patient can have that they can get better. The downside to this that I saw though was that she was still in pain, the medications and chemotherapy were not doing anything for her and it all pointed to the inevitable fact that she was going to die. In this instance I thought about all of the various medications she tried and all of the extra chemotherapy sessions she took and the radiation for the developing tumors in her brain. Were all of these treatments worth it? She knew, as well as the doctors, that the treatments would not work on her. She would not get better. Based on this, I thought that if this is the case, and she were to die and there is nothing more to do then medicine’s purpose here is to give her the death that she wanted. The medications should ease her pain so that she could die at home surrounded by family. The doctor knew this would be a difficult task to accomplish because she would not stop treatment and dying at home would mean they lost the battle against cancer. This was something not only her family goes through but others throughout the world that have access to potential cures or treatments for cancers and other terminal illnesses. My uncle, several years ago was in the hospital and was very sick. He was terminally ill. He was not getting any better and the medications that he was given to help the symptoms of the disease had side-effects that were worse than those of the disease. He stopped taking the medications even though most of the family tried to get him to take them and to continue treatment and taking medications. He decided that the pain was not worth it. He knew and everyone knew that he would not make it. It was his decision. I cannot remember whether or not he was on any pain relieving medications or not at the end of his life or anything he took specifically but it was hard. He died in the hospital.
Personally, I think that if there is nothing more medicine can do to spare one’s life, then medicine should be used to make an individual’s death more bearable. I know however, that most would not want this option because they would have to accept that a loved one is dying or that they themselves are dying. At the end of one’s life, I believe that if medicine cannot save you, it should let you go. At the end of one’s life, I believe that this is the way to go. If medicine cannot save you, let go. I respect optimism and hope but at the same time, there are limits to everything that we can do. Sometimes it is best to let go.