So recently a friend of mine pointed out a controversial article by Dr. Richard Smith who happens to be an acknowledged practitioner of medicine. As you can guess by the title of my post, if you haven’t come across the article yourself, he wrote that cancer was a good death.
At first thought you would probably be appalled and shocked by this statement in today’s day and age. You’re more likely to hear out of the mouth of a ‘Super Bitch’ like Katie Hopkins than the former editor of the British Medical Journal.
In his blog, the doctor claims that death by cancer is one of the better ways to die in comparison to sudden death or dementia. Now this is a bold statement and you wouldn’t make such claims unless there was something behind it, some sort of thought process. After having read the article and thought upon it for a while, I can see where this is coming from.
“Death from organ failure – respiratory, cardiac, or kidney – will have you far too much in hospital and in the hands of doctors. So death from cancer is the best…
You can say goodbye, reflect on your life, leave last messages, perhaps visit special places for a last time, listen to favourite pieces of music, read loved poems, and prepare, according to your beliefs, to meet your maker or enjoy eternal oblivion.
This is, I recognise, a romantic view of dying, but it is achievable with love, morphine, and whisky.
But stay away from overambitious oncologists, and let’s stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer, potentially leaving us to die a much more horrible death.”
Now I haven’t experienced the death of someone close to me and witnessed their struggle with cancer. Relatives of mine have lost their lives to cancer before but to me it’s just another way to die. Actually, the whole thought about cancer really upsets me because the knowledge of death brings about fear. A sudden death leaves you incapable of knowing and therefore eliminates that fear until moments before your death rather than several months or years of knowledge.
The hope of treatment is another issue in itself for both the individual and the family. I know it isn’t really a good comparison but I read the book, “The Fault in Our Stars” and I got a gist of what it is like to be someone who is suffering from cancer. I am yet to watch the movie but I know for sure it will get me teary eyed just like the paper-version of the story.
However, having said that, there are positives in this kind of death. You are given a time-limit. If someone asks whether you want to die right now or some time down the line, even if it’s only a few days, you will always take the second option.
That remaining time becomes precious because suddenly the remaining time you have in this world means something. You can finally try and do the things that you had put off. You can mend relationships, pay off debts, tie up loose ends and say your goodbyes.
If you are lucky enough to have a family, you can make preparation for them once you leave the world. Now I’m not talking about doing a ‘Walter White’ here but I’m talking about simple loving things like leaving letters behind to read once you’ve gone. Leaving presents behind for you children once they’ve grown older. You can even write a will if you hadn’t already done so, so that you can leave something behind for the people you care about.
It also gives you the final chance to leave something behind for this world to remember you by. People remember you most by their recent memory of you and these final moments can make it so. I know it’s a scary thought but I’d rather die from cancer than a heart attack or dementia.
Can you imagine the pain your family would feel if you left them without a goodbye? It could leave people broken. Whereas the knowledge of your inevitable death can be accepted more easily once they understand that you are ready and willing.
Dementia is another horrible one, forgetting who you are and what you’re worth before you leave the world. The final moments of your life would be incomplete and lost. I’d rather die surrounded by people who love me than die with strangers by my side. There is a romance about a death by cancer where you can feel appreciated and loved before you go. I do agree on that point but not that it is a good way to die. Dying can never be classified as good.
Dr Smith also mentioned money being wasted on cancer treatment. Being a pharmacist I have some knowledge about how drugs come into the market. It costs millions upon millions to design these drugs. It’s a multi-billion pound industry. So although this money can save the lives of a few people or prolong their death, it can actually be used to definitely save millions of lives if spent on other aspects of healthcare.
The cancer drug market is also exploiting the world by providing drugs that do not have enough evidence of being effective yet charge very harshly with the knowledge that the world is desperate.
I’m not saying the millions spent on cancer research are wrong. What I’m saying is that there are other areas where that money would be more efficient in providing a better quality of life and health for people.
Now without making anybody upset, I would like to end this post apologizing to those that maybe offended. That is not my intention. These are just my personal views based on the article by Dr. Richard Smith.