Treatment, Treatment, Treatment, Why?

What would you like me to write about? Bargaining--the patient (with terminal brain cancer) trying to find a cure; trying to find holistic cures to save his life and spending whatever "extra" cash he has to do it.

You’ve just described most people who have been told they have a life threatening illness. Why do we search for every possible avenue to stay alive when often we really aren’t living life to its fullest in the first place is my question. Are most of us really living life when we are healthy let alone when we are sick?

Part of our inability to stop searching and trying ”everything possible to keep us alive” begins with the medical professionals; their honesty, their forthrightness, the manner in which they present the diagnosis and treatment options to us. Unfortunately, this is not always done in a manner that tells us truthfully what the next year or six months of our life will be like and that death, not cure will be the ultimate outcome.

As I have written before there is a huge difference between treatment for life threatening diseases and cure. Most people are willing to go through immense pain and difficulty for a cure and appropriately so but most treatments for a lot of cancers may shrink the tumors but still leave a person incapacitated and dying.

It is generally not human nature to just lay down and die particularly with the medical advances we have made in the last century. Death used to be recognized as a part of living, a person got sick and then they died (if they didn’t get killed by the many events in their hard life first). Now we look at death as a failure in the medical system not a natural course of events. Doctors are suppose to “fix” us and if one can’t then we search for one who will.

I believe we all have the responsibility to try to be cured if our condition is curable. With the advent of the internet and search engines we can research our condition, learn about our disease and with enough information decide if or how much treatment will make a difference. Armed with knowledge we can make informed choices; choices not based on fear, ignorance and that innate drive to stay alive.

Added to the above opinion I think a person’s personality is also an important player in these decisions. As an example, I think I have a low pain tolerance and probably avoid discomfort more than most people. My personality is such that I would not go for extensive treatments and medical procedures. My step father, however, chose, by nature of his personality (a doer, in charge, very mental--not that all people with these personality characteristics will make the same choice--), to undergo extensive treatments for his cancer knowing the outcome was not favorable. Neither of these choices are a right or wrong way to face a serious, life threatening illness.

If we can get realistic facts about cure vs remission vs shrinkage and what those outcomes mean in relation to our quality of living we can then make decisions based on knowledge.

We will all be afraid to some degree as we approach the end of our life. We will all be frightened to let go of the known for the unknown. No one wants to leave that which they know even if living is difficult and challenging each day. My hope is that with honesty from the medical profession we can make informed decisions about how we want to live until we are dead. That we will not choose out of ignorance and fear to chase the unreachable. We can dream the unreachable dream by choosing to make the time that our body is willing to give us the best opportunity for everyone involved.

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