Death and dying is a touchy subject I address with my patients and their families every day. I’ve also spoken with many patients about their “Time to Heal” and written several articles on that subject. Now, it is time to talk about Time to Die. Every Wednesday morning, we have our staff meeting to cover any problems with patient care and address any problems related to medical practices.
Occasionally, my staff will bring a lighted candle to the staff meeting as a means to share and reflect on a patient who had recently died. We review the chart, reflect, and discuss how we could have done better. We celebrate the transition of the person into another cycle of life.
Death and dying as a cycle of life, not the end of life, after suffering and postponing the inevitable, seems easier for the patient, myself, my staff, and the family members to accept death as a part of life.
What would you do if your doctor told you that you have terminal pancreatic cancer and three months to live, or one more year to live with lung cancer, or a few more months to live with chemo, radiation or surgery? Would you do chemo, radiation therapy, or surgery? Most of my patients will choose chemo, radiation, or surgery. However, they also want nutritional support, detoxification, and holistic support to help them get through their therapies with their oncologists.
Often, I would ask my patients what they really want to do when they are cancer free and feeling well. Most of them will say they want to travel to places they have been thinking and dreaming about but they were previously too busy. And now they are too sick to travel.
Some of them blurt out, “I want more sex! My ex-husband (or ex-wife) was a lousy lover!” or “I want to live in Paris and eat out every night, no more cooking, and have French cuisine with fine wines every night!” Some people want to be close to nature, living a simple life surrounded by mountains or by the beach on a remote island.
Some new patients are so far advanced in their illness that they die quickly, within few days, before I have any chance to see the effects of my treatments. They are so far progressed that there is no point of return. We get the message, that the patient has died, from family members.
Sometimes, there are big surprises that my patient died after a minor accident or even a bad golf game. For example, Jim was an avid golfer who had pancreatic cancer but he seemed stable when I saw him. One day I saw him with his arm in a sling. He said he had a bad swing and hit the dirt and jammed his elbow. One week later, he died from the blood clots. Is it possible that the bad swing from the golf game changed life events by triggering inflammation and blood clots into his lungs? Or, maybe, it was his time to die, no matter what, as if it was written in stone.
On the other side of the story, Cheryl, 40 year old, came to see me about 20 years ago with a diagnosis of cancer from adenocarcinoma of the lung. She did not respond to chemotherapy and came to see me for evaluation. Most lung cancer patients die within one to two years with or without chemo, radiation, and surgery.
I put her on my nutritional program, detoxification program, and aggressive parasite medication regiments. Six months later, there were no signs of cancer as indicated by chest X-ray or CT scan. (This case is in my book, Accidental Cure.) As routine follow up care, she was taking parasite meds about two times per year and had been doing well.
She was cancer free for about thirteen years. One day she had recurrent coughing. I was not available to see her because I was out of town. She saw her primary care physician. X-ray was taken, followed by CT scan because of her history of lung cancer. Biopsy was done. She was told she had recurrent slow growing lung cancer. Chemotherapy was started. She died soon after starting chemotherapy. The events happened so quickly. I never had time to intervene and slow down the whole process as if her time was up. It was her time to die.
Lev, a Russian immigrant developed pancreatic cancer. He was told he had three months to live. I put him on parasite meds as a part of his treatment. He lived about three more years. He went to a Caribbean island for a vacation, got sick, saw his primary care physician, was referred to an oncologist because of his previous history of pancreatic cancer, and started on chemotherapy, soon after which he died. I reviewed the chart with a third year medical student from Washington University Medical School. I asked the student to check how many times I wrote parasite meds during that time. I prescribed parasite meds nine times during the three year period. He was feeling well and working during that time without any discomfort or pain.
Elsa, a 77 year old woman came to see me with congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and ejection fraction of 20 percent with a prognosis of one or two years survival. She lived to be 91 years old.
When doctors, with their best knowledge and intention, give patients a prognosis of how much time to live or time to die, whether it is three months or two years, often, most patients die during that time period because they believe their doctors’ predictions. When you beat the expectation and prognosis of death and dying by years of life, it is like a dead man talking. Is it possible to bend Time? You have to first believe that you can bend Time. Let the dead man keep talking.