A Weighty Subject

I was talking with my sister the other day. Her husband’s family is hard hit with illness right now. There is a sister in Kentucky who is riddled with cancer and given only a short time to live. She’s currently in a nursing home. They visited earlier in the week and the sister was unresponsive, in my sister’s opinion, although her husband seemed to think she had made some response to him.

If that weren’t a heavy enough burden to bear, a brother, several years older than my brother-in-law, is newly diagnosed with lung cancer which has spread to the lymph nodes. The brother said he is going to refuse treatment. No surgery, no chemo, no treatments of any kind.

So this brings up another subject to ponder. When a person has accomplished his three score and ten, is it “suicide” to refuse medical treatments? Will the treatments cure the condition or only prolong the dying? If added years of life are obtained, what is the quality of that life? Is it filled with pain and yet more treatments?

If you were in this man’s situation, what would you do?

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2 Responses to A Weighty Subject

  1. Kiwi says:

    You certainly have given this topic deep thought. If I was this man I would want the respect and support of my family and friends with the decisions I make. These decisions would have been made after consultation with professionals who, these days, do not pull any punches. Personally I do not see refusal of treatment as suicide but rather that of allowing nature to take its course. Having had some friends who have gone down this path it was apparent that the decisions made by the patient were more difficult for family and friends to come to terms with but the patient was at peace with them. None of us know what choices we would make if faced with the a similar scenario until we are in that position.

  2. fillyjonk says:

    I, personally, would not consider refusing “heroic” treatment (even including stuff like chemo in the cases of advanced cancer) to be suicide. Quality of life is an issue as well, and I personally think a quick and less-painful end would be preferable to prolonging suffering for a year or more. I’d rather go to meet my Maker after a relatively short time, than to try and stretch out my time here on Earth, even if it was painful.

    I think it also helps a lot when the individual is able to express his or her wishes before the time the decision really has to be made. It saves a lot of agony, suffering, and possibly dissent in the family to know “This is how Grandpa (or whoever) would want it to be” instead of the family having to decide what measures to take and what measures not to take.

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