A True Cancer Story

My aunt (father’s sister) and my uncle (mother’s brother), were both diagnosed with Liver cancer within a week of each other. they were both in their 70’s.

My uncle went through chemotherapy daily for 11 months (except on weekends which always seemed odd to me). During this time, he was horribly sick in bed, could not go to the bathroom, could barely speak could not eat and was very weak. Throughout the ordeal I would ask my mother how my uncle was and she would respond: “the doctors are very pleased, he has put on 1/2 a pound”.

My aunt decided that she would not go the medical route. She spent 2 months visiting her grandchildren, two weeks at home with her friends, visiting and playing cards and the last week in bed with pain killers until she gently passed away. I would ask her how she felt about being so ill and know that she was terminal. Her response was that she had had a good life and wanted to enjoy every minute of the rest of it. she died at home surrounded by loved ones. I must say that the doctors screamed at her for not going the chemo route, but she and her children remained firm. She was a strong lady and refused to be intimidated.

My uncle continued to be horribly sick until after about 11 months, the doctors said that there was no more that could be done as the chemo was no longer working. They stopped the chemo, he he continued to be sick for another week, was finally taken to the hospital, hooked up to all kinds of IV’s and given all kinds of meds, went into a coma for 3 days and than died.

At his funeral his adult children asked that instead of flowers, donations should be sent to the “City of Hope” a cancer hospital in Los Angeles as they were so wonderful during his illness.

At my aunt’s funeral, the children asked that instead of flowers, people should donate the money to their favorite charities or to Israel to plant trees and to perpetuate life.

I am passing no judgment, I just found the situation in both my uncle’s case and my aunt’s case pretty remarkable, for different reasons of course.

As a side note, I was curious why the doctors really stopped the chemo as my uncle was barely alive to begin with. They said, it stopped working, I later found out the insurance money to pay for it (chemo is very expensive) ran out.

My only comment will be, something seems terribly wrong with the health care system in the U.S. Or is it our priorities, our beliefs, the medical system, the pharmaceutical system, our conditioning or what?

Doc Gene

2 thoughts on “A True Cancer Story

  1. Very interesting post. While I live in the U.S. my mother has lived in a poverty stricken country for many years. She has taught me that they have a different perspective on death there than we do here. They accept it much eaisier and seem to realize that it is part of life. I agree that there isn’t a right or a wrong way to fight the illness, such a personal choice.

  2. I wonder how much is a personal choice and how much is conditioning by the doctor, family etc. How many times have I heard: “My Doctor says I must”. I used to joke that if the doctor told my mother to put her head in the toilet and flush, she would do it….I have to do what my doctor says.
    Interestingly, I find the situation very different in Central and South America and parts of Europe.

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