[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
June 3, 1983

Mercy—for the Terminally III Cancer Patient!

Author Affiliations

Bozeman, Mont

JAMA. 1983;249(21):2883. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330450019007

My daughter, whom I shall identify as J.A., finally succumbed to disseminated metastatic carcinoma of the breast during the spring of 1982 at the age of 34 years. Her prolonged suffering occasioned the writing of this article. I hope that her abridged case history will help to somehow temper the overaggressive treatment of the obviously and hopelessly ill terminal cancer patient by both academic and grass roots physicians. This is a voice from the country speaking its piece. Unless a physician has had the misfortune of having a loved one die by inches as he stands helplessly by, he would have difficulty gaining this insight necessary to understand suffering and its iatrogenic prolongations. Most physicians caring for very ill patients make their decisions on brief, no matter how compassionate, visitations. The hour-by-hour, day-by-day vigil is left to the nursing staff and the family. The treatment plan is outlined by the