Monday, March 16, 2009

When is enough, enough?

One of our colleagues at work was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago. The doctors treated him with experimental drugs and at one time he was declared cancer free. That lasted maybe 2 or 3 months and then the cancer returned worse than before.

We’ve watched RD’s health go up and down, but never really improving significantly. He’s currently on an oral chemotherapy that causes him extreme pain (as if the cancer wasn’t enough). Most of the time, he can’t walk because the drugs cause such horrible sores on his feet.

RD comes to work whenever he feels up to it, but we all know it’s just a way for him to get out of the house and be with friends. Most of the time, he’s just here.

This morning he called in to say that he was in the ER and wouldn’t be in. More complications from the chemo. His tumor became so large late last year that the doctors did surgery (again) to remove what they could and repair the hernia that it had caused.

I keep wondering to myself, how much more can RD stand? I’m sure if he was my husband I’d want the doctors to do everything possible to save his life, but when is enough, enough? Of course RD doesn’t want to die, but is his quality of life satisfactory enough to make the continued suffering justified?

It’s not a question I can answer. In fact I’m glad I don’t have to make such a horrific decision, but when I see a 50 year old man creeping down the hall, I can’t help but wonder.