Reading about anyone's loss of a child to cancer is terrible, but somehow reading a doctor's account of losing his adult daughter to an incredibly aggressive malignancy makes it seem even worse:
Her oncologist arrives in a few minutes. Comparison of chest C-T’s shows that the undifferentiated tumor in her lung has doubled in size in less than three weeks. The hopelessness of the situation is discussed with her husband, and a decision is made with the assistance of a hospice physician to provide comfort care. She receives ice chips, and morphine is administered. About four hours later, she enters a peaceful coma and dies at 6:30 am on August 29, just 20 days after the initial MRI demonstrated the brain tumors.
The purpose of this brief chronicle is not to criticize the practice of medicine. While I had several disagreements with non-physicians, the physicians who cared for my daughter, without exception, were very understanding and gave freely of their time. Each did everything possible to deal with her enormously aggressive malignancy. Rather, I have attempted to relate the experiences of a father/physician as he watches his daughter die of cancer. Her course was a testament to the limitations of medical care. In this era of molecular biology, the most valuable medication was morphine, a drug that has been available for almost 200 years.
Although painful, I am capable of describing the events of my daughter’s illness. When I try to describe my despair and grief, words fail.