Monday, July 03, 2006

understanding choices

total brain irradiation is a treatment option for cancer spread to the brain. it decreases the risk of recurrence. but because it destroys both the cancer cells and the healthy brain cells, it commonly brings about dementia. dementia is a disorder of the mind that impairs perception and memory among other functions.

it is a mighty tough decision which my friend and his wife have to make. after being diagnosed with breast cancer, decision to go through mastectomy, chemotherapy and local radiation therapy to prevent spread was easy to make. it was a pretty straightforward treatment protocol to follow. but all those gave his wife only a few months of remission from breast cancer. just a month ago, there was a solitary tumor discovered in her brain, which turned out to be what they feared the most, a spread. they are in a different ballgame now, wherein unfortunately, there are no proven successful protocols to follow. at this stage, palliation is the name of the game. and cure, a miracle.

the wife, a real achiever, driven as she is, obviously was scared of having early dementia. she was worried she will be forgetful and may not be able to express her thoughts and feelings because of it. what will life be then if she could not communicate what is in her mind and heart?

her husband, another achiever, and just as driven, though also obviously worried about dementia, is threatened more by the possibility of a recurrence. "her forgetfulness or difficulty to communicate, i will be able to live with. but the recurrence... i cannot." what will life be then, if months, weeks, hours, minutes, or even just seconds with his life partner will be prematurely snuffed out from it?

i understand why he would rather choose living with her dementia. he continues to be hopeful and wants to at least give a chance for life with his life partner be extended for any period of time. whether that time is short, or shorter. he just wants them to be together and he wants to take care of her. to him, it does not matter if he will have to go through her difficulty in remembering or expressing herself. he will cope with it and will try to feel her thoughts and her feelings.

they say communication comes in various forms between people. many times, life partners have a way of understanding each other without words being spoken. depending on how much one loves another person, any which way should be good enough.


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