Before reading the article “Letting Go” I had no concept of the issue that we have with modern medicine and not knowing when to stop. I have had deaths in my family, but I was young and was not involved in what was going on. I do remember the mentioning of Hospice when my grandfather died, but only knew it as the place where my Poppa was going to die. After learning more about Hospice, and especially after reading the short story, I would certainly choose to prepare to die rather than take on treatments that will most likely make my end of life time much more difficult. There were so many alarming statistics in “Letting Go” that really opened my eyes. By no means do I think that if I were a doctor it would be easy for me to inform people that they are going to die soon or to give them a life expectancy, but the fact that “more than forty per cent of oncologists report offering treatments that they believe are unlikely to work” frightens me a little bit. I believe that it would be extremely unfair if a doctor gave me a drug that they did not think will do anything to help me just to prolong having to tell me that I’m going to die. I, as a person, have the right to know when I should start preparing to die and so does everybody else. What people do with that information is up to them. Sarah’s case was very unfortunate. I understand her drive and will to live and to raise her baby, but maybe if someone would have sat down with her and really explained things to her and her family, she could have spent her last months with more peace and tranquility and much less pain and suffering with hospice or palliative care.
“Hospice deploys nurses, doctors, and social workers to help people with a fatal illness have the fullest possible lives right now. That means focusing on objectives like freedom from pain and discomfort, or maintaining mental awareness for as long as possible, or getting out with family once in a while.”
When medicine can not save a person’s life, it should make the end as comfortable as possible. That is exactly what Hospice is.
“Curiously, hospice care seemed to extend survival for some patients; those with pancreatic cancer gained an average of three weeks, those with lung cancer gained six weeks, and those with congestive heart failure gained three months. The lesson seems almost Zen: you live longer only when you stop trying to live longer.”
Who knew? I certainly didn’t. The word needs to be spread and actions need to be taken to inform people so they know the steps that need to be taken in order for them to have the best possible quality of life when the end is near. People need to be more educated about the choices they have and they need to be told the truth about each choice. We need to be empowered and given the tools to ease our minds and at least try to make the end come easier.