I’m not a regular reader of Orac but I saw this post today and it’s a must-read, particularly if you are aware of the furore surrounding a 13-year-old kid called Daniel Hauser and his parents’ decision to refuse conventional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation to treat his Hodgkin's lymphoma in favor of alternative treatment.
Orac has given a definitive, no-holds-barred list of what actually happens when one chooses to die from cancer rather than undergo chemo or radiation therapy. The proponents of the “avoid chemo and die pain-free” camp remain blissfully unaware of what cancer actually does to the body and the agonizing pain and misery that comes with it. Sure, chemo and radiation cause both short- and long-term side effects, some of which can be fatal, but that plus increasing the odds of surviving sounds a hell of a whole lot better than certain death preceded by an incredible amount of pain.
Have I experienced having to make this decision myself? No. But my mother had to make a choice when diagnosed with invasive breast cancer 5 years ago ... the choice between 100% risk of death and reducing her risk of recurrence to ~5% within 10 years with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. As the family's resident scientist (ha!), she turned to me for help with this decision and my immediate reaction, in between copious amounts of tears was, “you need to have the treatment - I don’t want you to die.”
It wasn’t a pleasant experience for her. Invasive surgery to remove the large lump as well as the lymph glands from the axilla. Chemotherapy which left her bald, immunosuppressed, nauseated and fatigued. Radiation therapy which caused large, painful blisters as well as nausea and fatigue. Her medical team was amazing throughout and made sure she had a constant supply of anti-nausea meds and painkillers which, while not 100% effective, certainly helped. Even now, 5 years later, she is having major dental problems, short-term memory issues and some sun sensitivity. And she has more grey hair now which probably pisses her off more than anything else.
But the best thing of all? My mother is still alive. She saw me graduate with my PhD, was at the birth of her first (and only) grandson and then celebrated his next 4 birthdays, turned 60, and a ton of other things. She wouldn’t have done any of these things if it hadn’t been for modern medical techniques such as surgical oncology, chemo and radiation therapy.
I thank my lucky stars every day that my mother is alive and well. With any luck she’ll be with us for a long time to come. Others, like Arlenna’s cousin, aren’t so lucky.
Consider the choice between modern therapy and death. The choice between short- and even long-term side effects vs excruciating pain and certain death.
It’s a no-brainer.
Go read Orac’s post. He writes much bettererer than I evah could.
Writing, Thinking and Reflecting
14 hours ago