As most of us know by now, Elizabeth Edwards died on Tuesday from terminal cancer. While her loved ones and the country mourns this best-selling author and political figure, she set an example for all of us when facing the end of her life:
In the end, Elizabeth Edwards chose to live her final days as she had most of her life – her way. (From The Magazine: Edwards in 2006.) She stopped cancer treatments, started saying goodbye to friends and lived as comfortably as she could at home.
For many people with a terminal illness, accepting death is not an option. Many will pursue every viable medical treatment available to prolong their life. As long as their health provider allows, they will fight their condition to the end. They will not give up.
But for those who realize they’ve exhausted the medical realm and decide – with or without their doctor’s advice – to end treatment, it’s not about giving up. Palliative care is about support and helping patients live their last days as comfortably as possible. For terminally ill patients and their families, making the decision to end therapy is never an easy one. The best approach should come after careful consideration.
As she said, “I am dying. Of course you are, too. We all are.” Our thoughts are with her family and loved ones.