This Illness and Attitude section contains a summary of many patients who are suffering from grave life-threatening diseases and how each one approaches their illness.
There are many who have a positive approach to life and others who look at it so negatively.
All names have been changed to maintain privacy.
A young 35-year-old man from another country came to us with a large thigh tumor which proved to be a sarcoma which was not sensitive to radiotherapy or chemotherapy. A PET Scan showed he had spread to both the lungs. There were multiple metastases bilaterally in the lungs.
He talked about his illness very freely and was not hesitant. He was aware that his illness was life-threatening and it was wonderful to see him so positive in life. We repeatedly told him to have the source removed by having the leg amputated, which he bluntly refused.
I asked him why he was worsening his bleak chances of survival. He took out his mobile and showed me the photo of his three lovely children aged between 1 year and 10 years. He said, “If I lose my leg who will bring up these children and my wife who are totally dependent upon me. Doc, I believe in miracles and I feel there is another power other than on earth that will help me.”
He was given chemotherapy, as desired by him, and it made little difference and over the six weeks, I saw him slowly slipping away. He was in severe pain and developed high-grade fever for which he had to be given strong pain-killers and antipyretics.
What I did admire in this young man was his resilience and a strong desire to be well. He never broke down before me and I know he probably he felt he has taken the wrong decision. He said, “let now go back to my country, as I am. I will have whatever treatment is available with my family beside me’
What was happening to our friend? The memory of his family, the love of his children and wife and concern for them was influencing his decision. In trying to regain perfect health he was slowly dying and refused to see that he could not be cured of this deadly disease. He was not listening to the honest advice of his doctors because the love for his family was clouding his decision.
In trying to do good for his family he was actually harming them, which he refused to realize in the deep love for them.
He came to me when he saw the second chemotherapy was not working and agreed to have the disarticulation of the hip (a very major surgery). I was glad he had consented and though it was just a palliative procedure but would give him a reasonable quality of life. So we prepared him for surgery and when everything was done he again changed his mind and left for his country.
I know he has again taken the wrong step but there was nothing we could do about it. Was it monitory? Was it fear? I told him we would help him in every way to reduce the expenses so probably it was not that. If he was afraid there is nothing we could do except reassure him but we had to be candid with him to tell him the truth in a manner which would not be very blunt.
We wish him the very best in life.