When the doctor informed the old man at Grey’s Anatomy’s yesterday’s episode that his wife, whom he loves the most in life, is dying of cancer. The old man asked the doctor not to tell her in order to spare her the fear of knowing that she is dying. Unfortunately, (or is it fortunately?) in the USA, doctors have to tell their patients the exact status of their conditions. The doctor told the old wife that she is dying of cancer in 4-6 months. The old lady in return asked her not to tell her husband so that to spare him the fear of losing her.
On the ground, my family had to face this kind of situation twice. The first time when my grandfather (mother’s side) was diagnosed of having cancer at an advanced stage where there was no point in treating him. The family decided not to put him through the hassle of chemotherapy and they never told him about his condition. He only suffered much on his last days, and he passed away without knowing that he had a cancer.
We recently faced the same problem, this time with my grandmother (father’s side). She was diagnosed with cancer last year, and was treated with chemotherapy without even telling her that this kind of treatment is for cancer’s patients. Her condition has only gone worse, and yesterday morning she demanded my aunt to call my father to go and see her. She said “I am dying, let him come”.
With the amount of spread of this deadly disease, and without a requirement for Jordanian doctors to be loyal to their patients and inform them about their condition status, Jordanian families are facing the hard question whether to tell their loved ones that they are dying or not. It is an impossible situation, and with our cultural preference of keeping things in secret, people usually go with the decision of not telling, snatching those they love the right of knowing that they might be living their last days, and thus knowing how to prepare themselves to leave.
I have always believed that if I ever get diagnosed of having only few months to live, I would want to know, but yesterday watching that old couple madly in love with each other while wanting to save each other the fear of knowing it, I am not really sure where I stand. While we all know that we are dying one day, knowing that “death is near” is very frightening. I may want to know myself, but would definitely want to spare my loved ones that pain.
It is a tough call. Sometimes we deprive our loved ones from their basic right for what we believe is the best for them, and our love can easily turned into a betrayal of their trust and their right to know what is going on in their bodies. Maybe if everyone write it down and made it clear what they want, people who love us would find it easier to decide to tell us that we are dying when we are or not.
My grandfather was crying yesterday because he realized that he is losing his life partner (they never told him about her condition as well). She on the other hand, lay in bed seeing all whatever believed in manifested in front of her. She called my aunt: “Look outside there is a huge beautiful cross”. Ofcourse my aunt didn’t see it.
May God help her through this.