I had the opportunity to speak with a son of a man who recently succumbed to advanced prostate cancer. He told me that while accompanying his father on the prostate cancer journey he had learned something that could only have been learned from having had this experience.
He explained to me that perhaps it is just part of our culture, but we place such strong faith in our medicine and in our doctors that we always believe that somehow, we are going to be different, that we have a chance. For his dad, the treatments he received were equal to hope and despite the great toll it took on his body and the near certain
knowledge it would not save him, he had to continue, to hold on to hope.
As long as he tried different treatments, including clinical trials, he would not lose hope and give up. He always remained resolute in his determination to go on living.
As the side effects accrued and his father’s body weakened, he began to doubt the
wisdom of his father’s choices. Despite this, his father refused to consider not
fighting, no matter the cost, so he kept all his doubts to himself.
When his father passed away, it came to him “in absolute clarity. We will all die.” Some of us just know when and by knowing that, we have choices.
Prostate cancer is very cruel and his father did not die a pleasant death. He told me that he wishes that he could have the chance to discuss this with his father, and perhaps make some different choices. To walk away from all the hospitals and enjoy the time they had left, to have a choice on how it all ended.
“When we first started on this journey there were a many people, who told us that we must choose to fight, no matter what happens. It was only through this experience that I could understand why you might choose not to fight as hard.”
If you read this and think, it is about giving up, that is not it. It is
about being honest and making the best use of your time, and having the
ultimate say in your life. The goal is to be able to look back on
it all, and to be able to think we could not have done it any better.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW