What Matters in the End

What Matters in the End

There are many kinds of studies; the most powerful one, for me, was the study that Jennifer Temel, a Massachusetts General Hospital physician, did — led, which took care of stage four lung cancer patients. They lived only, on average, 11 months. It’s a terminal condition; no one lived past about three years. And what she did was, half of the group were randomized to get the usual oncology care, and the other half were randomized to get the usual oncology care plus a palliative care clinician, physician, to see them early in the course of their illness. And so it was sort of a radical idea — see them from the very beginning.

 

And what — the group who saw the palliative care clinicians from the very beginning did end up stopping their chemotherapy. They were 50 percent less likely to be on chemotherapy in their last three months of life. They were 90 percent less likely to be on the chemotherapy in their last two weeks of life. They were less likely to get surgery towards the end. They had one-third lower costs. They started hospice sooner. They spent more time out of the hospital. They were less likely to die in the hospital or die in the ICU. And the kicker was that they not only had overall less suffering, they lived 25 percent longer.

https://onbeing.org/programs/atul-gawande-what-matters-in-the-end-oct2017/?

Tuesday’s With Morrie

 Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, Doubleday, 1997.
I have been serving people in their process of living until they die for many years now, and this wonderful little book touches my heart.  Morrie, a professor; Mitch a former student; come together in this powerful story of living fully until the end of a full life. We are let in on the process of this reconnection of lives in a way that gives an example of how rich such a risk can be for all concerned.  Morrie taught with his life. He also taught with his death. This is a book to curl up with on a cold winter day, because it will warm your heart and soul through and through.

The Beginning of All Things

Hans Kung has given us, what in effect is his life testament in The Beginning of all Things: Science and Religion. In it he concludes: “This is my enlightened, well – founded hope: dying is a farewell inward, and entry and homecoming into the ground and origin of the world, our true home, a farewell perhaps not without pain and anxiety, but hopefully in composure and surrender, at any rate without weeping and wailing, and without bitterness and despair, but rather in hopeful expectation, quiet certainty, and (after everything that has to be settled is settled) ashamed gratitude for all the good things and less good things that now finally and definitively lie behind us – thank God.” He gathers up a life time of study and reflection and brings us up to date on the dialogue between science and religion so that we can be both/and people like Jesus of Nazareth.