How to Die Well

2017-10-23T22:01:04+00:00 February 27th, 2017|

By Jessica Nutik Zitter

Source: Time Magazine

I first met Stephanie in the Intensive Care Unit. She was an urgent admission — in shock, her blood pressure was almost unmeasurable. Over the previous month, the rate of cancerous fluid building up around her lungs had increased. She had used the permanent drainage tube in her chest wall more frequently to manage her shortness of breath. But in the process, she had made her blood pressure dangerously low. She was unconscious and mumbling incoherently. Her kidneys and liver weren’t getting enough blood and were effectively dying. We worked quickly. And we were lucky enough to be able to rehydrate her before her organs became permanently damaged. Slowly, she woke up again. We had saved her.

Stephanie was a 60-year-old wife, mother and grandmother. She loved life. Wine tastings, gardening, spending time with her family — this didn’t stop when she was diagnosed. When she had learned that the cancer had spread to the other lung and brain, she took a deep breath and went back into the ring to fight. She signed up for more chemotherapy. If she worked hard, she thought, she could beat it.

I wanted to celebrate with Stephanie and her family — she was no longer in critical condition — but I couldn’t. Our “fix” wasn’t going to change the fact that her cancer would continue to worsen. And fast. More chemotherapy would not save this woman. I had to tell her the truth. (…) Read Full Article Here