Here is a thoughtful, and thought-provoking, piece about miracle cures, palliative care, and the physician’s dilemma. Read it.
My impressions: It used to be a simple, if painful, matter for a doctor tending a dying cancer patient to tell the truth – we have exhausted all therapies, you are going to die, so consider palliative care. Now, however, with immunotherapy and personalized medicine available (albeit at tremendous cost), the matter is far less clear-cut. Such is our ferocious desire to live that even people in their 80s will choose to fight on, even though (says the article), only about 15% of patients will respond – and we don’t know who they are. And, of course, side-effects may be horrendous.
I will be 85 in a few weeks. If I contract cancer, for God’s sake don’t let me try anything heroic. I want to exit life with a smile on my face and a vodka in my hand!