The Other End of Sunset

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Was it right?

Black Velvet
if you please
--Alannah Myles

The cover of this week's Businessweek is a story about the author's husband, and his death from cancer over a set of years. The goal of the article is to talk about the different treatments used, and their costs (and who paid them).

That's interesting enough -- and I've posted about similar things related to JR. It's clear that late-stage care is very expensive, and is almost certainly a bad allocation of resources for the system as a whole... and sometimes for the patient too.

But the article reminded me of the many opportunities one has to second guess treatment decisions, or the decisions not made, or... well, everything.

One of the many things I loved and respected about JR was her bravery. She wasn't going to go try strange experimental treatments -- she often said "I'm not going to China to drink herbal tea". She wasn't negative to people who chose that route, it just wasn't for her.

She did try lots of different drugs (including Avastin), when her doctors suggested they were worth a try.

And when it was time to move to Hospice care, she made that decision, and stuck to it. There were a few opportunities for her to have another surgery, or try some other experimental drug. You can't do those things while in Hospice care -- we would have to put her back into the normal medical regime. She turned the opportunities down, because she knew they weren't going to work.

And she wanted to focus on her friends, her family, and me. She wanted to say her goodbyes, hug her dogs, and hold my hand.

She wanted to see a beach again. We did that. She wanted to see Paris. We didn't do that.

Jeanne's death was very expensive -- we spent a great deal more than the author did -- but she didn't feel she was desperately chasing the next drug that would save her. She felt that she did what was right for her, for us.

I still second guess myself, fairly constantly, but I never second guess her.

I follow where my mind goes
--The Psychedelic Furs