Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Clarification & Amplification

Since yesterday’s principal post, I’ve received congratulatory messages concerning my father’s improvement. For example:
Let’s hope the trend continues indefinitely! Please give him my best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Those are nice sentiments, and I certainly agree with them in spirit. Unfortunately, reality is frequently in conflict with our wishes. And so it is here. To underscore what I said yesterday: He is not going to get better, not really. He will experience a brief improvement after which he will resume his downhill slide, almost certainly thereafter irreversibly. Well, he could experience spontaneous remission. And I could win the California Lottery.

But why not at least pass on the wishes? Well, my dad is a dispassionate, philosophical, scientific pragmatist—except about Republican politics, a topic on which frequently he raves. He understood clearly when Dr. Canin said “Well, you don’t have that much time left,”, though the statement certainly was abstract. He appreciated the significance of Dr. Canin’s further comment that, for patients like my dad, chemotherapy isn’t a cure; on average it prolongs life by just six to ten weeks. My dad understands that he is going to die. Soon.

Consequently, I think that wishes for a speedy recovery are ill–advised and inappropriate. But I will not edit your hopes and feelings. After reading this post, if you still would like to convey similar hopes/wishes/sentiments to my father, please [removed]. She’ll be able to pass the message on to my father sooner than I would.

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