I'm sending out a virtual hug to my friends mother...
I just got an email that my friends mother has lung cancer and has decided not to get treatment for it. She has also declined a biopsy to see what kind of cancer she has.
I absolutely adored my friends mother when I was 11, 12 and on as a teenager. Both my friends parents were from San Fransisco, schoolteachers, made fabulous bbq, and drank martini's and were, at least to me, super cool. They were also reasonable, relatively sane people, unlike my parents...so I thought they were fantastic. They used to have the best conversations at dinner time and the best food. I always stayed overnight at their place, with her 3 brothers and sisters at least once a week. My friend also would stay at my place at least once a week.
Her father passed away a number of years ago, and I am so sorry to hear of her mum's illness now...but was very inspired by her decision to not take treatment at this point in her life and age. I think she is very brave and has thought about the benefits of treatment versus her age and strength, and quality of life. Not easy to do.
Did you know that getting chemo has almost no statistical recovery advantage in most cancers?
It's true and was explored in Superfreakonomics. So, why do doctors prescribe so much treatment of cancer with chemo? One idea is that doctors can suffer depression by feeling helpless at treating their patients and the dialogue about chemo and following treatment helps them feel like they are still doing something. (of course there is probably a big-business angle to this too but not of interest to me at this moment)
Chemo helps only a few cancers, and only often by offering a couple of weeks...which doesn't take into account the discomfort of getting chemo, which can debilitate some patients lives for months.
Anyways here are some links about chemo and effectiveness:
1) Freakonomics blogging on healthcare issues
2) The Business Of Cancer
3) - Although the 5-year survival rate for all cancer patients has been shown to be 63 percent, barely 2 percent of survival is attributable to chemotherapy. For multiple myeloma, soft-tissue sarcoma, melanoma of the skin and cancers of the pancreas, uterus, prostate, bladder and kidney, chemotherapy had zero discernible effect. An argument for chemo: "chemo is hope"