Cancer treatments – when is enough, enough?
I had just finished seeing my doctor. I was at Kaiser Hospital. As it was a very hot day, I thought I would go down to the snack area and get a cool drink before I went home. That was when I saw her. She was maybe 55. She was sitting in the corner crying or trying unsuccessfully not to.
I approached her and asked if she was all right. She asked if I would just sit with her for a few minutes so I did. After a few minutes of silence she started talking. This is the story she told.
“I am dying. I have cancer. I have a daughter who just learned about a new treatment. She’s talking with my doctor, right now about starting me on it. I just had to get away for a few minutes. It’s been two years since I was diagnosed and I have tried everything. I hate the treatments. I spend my life being sick, and I want to spend my life with my grandchildren.
“Because I love my daughter, I suppose I will have to submit to this latest treatment, but the doctor says it will only add a few weeks to my life. I don’t have any fight left. I love my daughter and I know she’s doing it because she loves me. I wish she could just back off and let me be. I truly dread spending my last days, vomiting, and being too sick to sit up. I don’t want my daughter or my grandchildren, remembering me that way.”
“Okay God,” I thought, “Tell me what to say.” Peacefulness came over me and I’m going to tell you what I remember of what I said to her, because when God lets me remember something, it’s because He wants me to pass it on.
“This is your life, not your daughters. You must make your own decisions. Tell her she has to love you enough to let you go. Your daughter is afraid. She is afraid of losing you. Tell her you love her but it is your body. For that reason, and that reason alone, it has to be your decision. Tell her your decision is to choose quality over quantity of life.
Tell her you want to take her and your grandchildren some place fun, maybe Disneyland, while you’re still strong enough to do it. Let this be the legacy you leave your grandchildren. Tell your daughter that, on that day, you want to take away her sadness and your grandchildrens’ sadness. On that day all of you will enjoy your life to the fullest. On that day there will be no cancer, no sadness, and you will make the world rock with laughter, joy, and bountiful love.
Once you have made this decision, tell your daughter, you do not intend to leave this earth with your head in the toilet but screaming with laughter with her and your grandchildren.”
I thought about this woman many times over the years. When we parted that day she was smiling, her face was glowing with joy. I know we talked for well over half an hour. But this is all God allowed me to remember. I pray that her life was filled with quality for what every time God allowed her.
I have done my battle with cancer. God has set me free. That is why I, more than most, can understand why she didn’t want to die that way. Maybe the difference between living and dying is also the difference between quality and quantity. I feel very strongly that God wants us to have quality and leave the quantity to Him. What we do every day, determines our quality. What we don’t do every day, determines our quantity.
God made Adam and Eve. He made them beautiful and perfect. He wants us to have quality of life. He wants us to be happy and enjoy all the wonders He has prepared for us. And He wants us to share our lives and His gifts with everybody.
I think that the bottom line is this: if you love someone, truly love them, you must love them enough to let them go. Believe me, that is the hardest thing that God ever asks. But remember this: He loved His own son so much that He let Him go to save us.
Can we do any less for our loved ones? We, too, must love them enough to let them go- to free them to enjoy the quality of their lives no matter what the quantity!
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