It would be very easy for me to hibernate with everything I deal with. Dealing with a family member having cancer is the most difficult time. As I watch my father clutch and struggle to hold on to life, I want what is really best for him. I am not convinced having treatment is right for him and even less convinced that his treatment will work. It’s keeping him breathing, that’s all it’s doing.
I remember meeting up with someone who had cancer and was actively having treatment, probably long before my father became ill and this woman was fairly upbeat about her chances of beating the disease. She had already had cancer for some two years but was always clear on her decisions to go ahead with her treatment. She was in no doubt having treatment was the right path for her.
When I asked about her family’s thoughts on her treatment, she told me that her family did have their opinions, but that she wanted the treatment. She wasn’t unhappy with her decision, in fact the opposite, but did admit to there being an element of struggle involved. The treatment was far from easy with all of its side effects. About a year and a half later I heard she lost her battle.
Unfortunately I feel as though it seems we’re in a culture, whereby if a specialist can prolong or save a life, that’s what they will do, unless the family say otherwise. Of course it’s never their final decision, but the family wanting to hold on to their loved ones, coupled with the information they have, usually bring about these decisions to go for treatment.
I would rather have 4 or 5 weeks quality time with my father with no treatment, than watch him struggle to eat, breath, sleep and function normally, just to have him here with me. I think our inability to let go of a life is responsible.
It’s probably also the reason why some cancer patients may feel obliged to have treatment. They sometimes don’t want to let their loved ones down, knowing this is what their loved ones would want.