It must have taken the cancer clinic a couple of days, when I didn’t return for the next appointment, to realise I was serious about not following through with the cobalt treatments they had suggested. Due to the advanced stage of the sarcoma, to them, it looked more than hopeless without at the least, some form of treatment. And, statistically speaking, perhaps it was, it was my ‘quality of life’ that I was concerned about.
I got the impression that they had never had a patient flatly refuse treatment before, when I received a home visit from the specialist who had done the original extraction of the lump.
I was somewhat surprised, as I didn’t think they did that sort of thing, home visits. Yet there he was, sitting across our kitchen table, on his own time, obviously more worldly than us about the subject, almost desperate for me to start treatment. He understood the fear we were feeling and, I suppose, felt he could alleviate some of it with his visit. The strange thing was he was not my regular GP, nor did he have anything to do with the cancer clinic.
He was an ear, nose and throat doctor. Talking, almost begging, my parents, into having me start the cobalt program, his view, ‘that it was better than nothing’. Nothing, being what non-traditional stuff was to the medical professionals at that time, quackery. As he spoke, more to my parents than myself, I saw images of my future, dark, ugly, silent, my mind clouded up and the conversation drifted away. Whatever validity he had in his arrival and convictions, I didn’t hear it, for I left the room, my mind had already been made up.
He had explained that in time perhaps something else would come along. Cobalt with all its disadvantages was better than choosing to die.
I will always admire his integrity and dedication, and although he couldn’t change my mind, at the time, it was him that I thought of a year later when a new medical option did come along and it became possible to incorporate the traditional system of treatment back into my plan of action. (In fact, it was this one doctor, who, before he retired, took out the tonsils and adenoids of all four of my children, some of them twice.)
At the time though, I felt my options were limited, I had a choice to make and I made it, as I thought, knowing full well the consequences were my own. It wasn’t as though I was giving up; it was just that I didn’t like the pitiful cards they were dealing at the time. I had a more diverse path to follow, already since the day of diagnosis, we had been researching and hearing tales of alternative treatment.
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