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I was married to a doctor for 10 years. Before that, I lived with my aunt, also a doctor.

The one thing that absolutely shocked me is how they thought about aging and death. I kept reminding them their goal should be to find cures for everything, no matter how hard it seems. I approach every engineering problem as solvable. Maybe I can't solve it right now with the tools I have. Maybe I can't figure out a way to solve it and will have to leave it for the next generations. To absolve yourself because something is inevitable is a coward solution.

So, no, thank you. If that's what it takes to survive, I want to be cut open, sliced, probed, and, when everything else fails and I finally die, I want doctors to learn something from my death. I want them not to give up and, if they can't treat some condition, go out and invent a way to do it. You don't give up solving a problem just because it's hard.

It's their job and it's reasonable for us to expect them to do it.




I think this is a great way to think about it. People who try everything to extend their life do not die in vain. Over ten people in my family in the last ten years have been diagnosed with cancer and so far we've only lost one. The person who didn't make it was the youngest of all the victims, but his tumour was also somewhere the doctor's didn't see that often - the bile duct near the liver.

The number of operations and suffering he had to endure still lives with me to this day and I could see why any doctor would choose not to go through this if they had to see such futile attempts at extending life end the same way. They flew in special equipment from the USA that was deemed highly experimental and would cut him open and try it out, only to have to cut him back open a few weeks later to remove what they put in. They tried surgery after surgery in the hopes something would be successful. They did not save his life but I like to think they at least learnt something about a cancer they simply don't see that often, that gave the next person a better shot. When they finally told him there was nothing more they could do, he asked them to stop all further treatment and to let him die on his terms.

The outlook for patients with breast, stomach, lung, testicular, skin or any other form of "common" cancer used to be as bad as pancreatic or bile duct cancer, but these days it's not a death sentence and a lot of people had to lose hard fought battles to get to this point.


Every single one of us are going to die at some point. If you were a doctor and your goal is to "find cures for everything" then your eventual success rate over your career would be 0. Do you realize how hard it would be to do that for your entire career if you approached it thinking you could beat cancer?

You don't say in your post if your relatives were practitioners or research doctors, but if you're putting it on a practitioner to think they can beat the (studied) odds every day it is unfair in the least.

We are greatly indebted to the people who choose careers this stressful that benefit everyone else. You don't need to blame them for the current state of medical science. Trust me, they do it to themselves more than enough.


Since my father died, 43 years ago, many types of cancer were defeated. He wouldn't die today - he would undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery, would go bald, but would live to see his grandchildren.


their goal should be to find cures for everything

That's certainly a medical scientist's goal. It's not all the same as what I expect from a regular doctor, whose job it is to look after me - making a best effort to find or suggest cures where that is practical, or to minimize my suffering where it is not.


How old are you? Have you ever been hospitalized? Undergone surgery? Had other invasive medical treatments?




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