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I believe it is best that I refrain from comment on this topic after 16 years of this pernicious disease and having had close relatives and many friends die often years ahead of their time – Gee thanks Dr. Richard Smith :-0
Dr Richard Smith, an honorary professor at the University of Warwick, said that a protracted death allowed time to say goodbye to loved ones, listen to favourite pieces or music or poetry and leave final messages.
He claimed that any pain of dying could be made bearable through ‘love, morphine, and whisky.’
Writing in a blog for the BMJ, Dr Smith admitted that his view was ‘romantic’, but said charities should stop spending billions trying to find a cure for the disease because it was clearly the best option for an ageing population.
However Cancer Research UK claimed his comments were ‘nihilistic’ and gave little thought to young people whose lives are cut short by the disease.
His views were also criticised by the families of sufferers who accused the doctor of insensitivity.
In his blog Dr Smith quoted the Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel who warned that many patients risked suffering a ‘horrible death, kept at bay by the miracles of modern medicine.’
Bunuel died of pancreatic cancer in Mexico City in 1983 but managed to spend the last week of his life discussing theology with a Jesuit brother.
“Death from cancer is the best, the closest to the death that Buñuel wanted and had,” said Dr Smith.
“You can say goodbye, reflect on your life, leave last messages, perhaps visit special places for a last time, listen to favourite pieces of music, read loved poems, and prepare, according to your beliefs, to meet your maker or enjoy eternal oblivion.
“This is, I recognise, a romantic view of dying, but it is achievable with love, morphine, and whisky.”
Dr Smith, who also worked as a TV doctor for the BBC and TV-AM for six years, is now chair of both the medical records company Patients Know Best and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research.
He added: “I often ask audiences how they want to die, and most people chose sudden death.
“That may be OK for you,” I say, “but it may be very tough on those around you, particularly if you leave an important relationship wounded and unhealed.
“Death from organ failure—respiratory, cardiac, or kidney—will have you far too much in hospital and in the hands of doctors.
“(And) the long, slow death from dementia may be the most awful as you are slowly erased.”
Dr Smith warned people to ‘stay away from overambitious oncologists’ and said that charities should stop wasting billions trying to cure the disease and ‘potentially leaving us to die a much more horrible death.’
However Cancer Research UK said it was important to keep funding research to find cures for cancer.
Around 330,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Britain each year according to the latest figures, and one in three people will be affected in some way by the disease.
Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “Of course we are all going to die, but cancer takes far too many people far too young.
“It’s only by being ambitious in our research that we can give people a measure of choice, and the more we know about cancer the more we can give people options.
“My patients are very clear about when they do and when they don’t want treatment, and they would much prefer me to be ambitious than nihilistic”.
Readers of Dr Smith’s blog also branded his comments as ‘ignorant and insensitive’
“Watching my mother rapidly ravaged by Cancer a few years ago, never ever did I think it was the best way for her or us,” wrote the daughter of one cancer victim.
“The haunting final images of her as her body finally gave up are burned into my mind and they aren’t the memories I would choose.
“A chance to say goodbye? Her final weeks were made up of endless nurses visits, her anxiety and fear of how it would end, deterioration and paranoia.”
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If YOU want to follow my fight against Cancer from when it started and I first presented with symptoms in 1998 see The TAB at the Header of this Blog. called >DIARY of Cancer ….< just click and it will give you a long list of the main events in chronological order, many linked to specific blog postings.
Thoughts, articles and comments will be in chronological order in the main blog and can be tracked in the >ARCHIVE< in the Left Sidebar.
You may find the TABS >MEDICAL LINKS< and also >CANCER LINKS< of help, also many of the links in articles and >HOT LINKS< in the Sidebar.
YOU are welcome to call me, minded that I am NOT medically trained, if you believe I can help in ANY way. .
Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins