A Doctor Describes Losing a Daughter to Cancer

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.

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