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Cancer Care Chronicles
July 2018

Acceptance in the End of Life

Author Affiliations
  • 1Radiation Oncology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
JAMA Oncol. 2018;4(7):917-918. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.4516

Last summer my terminally ill 4-year-old daughter died. My wife and I decided later in her life to change her code status to “do not resuscitate.” Her final days were not plagued by trips to medical clinics or diminished by adverse effects from dubious treatments. Her final moments did not involve being rushed to the intensive care unit or having her body crushed by chest compressions and intubations. She slipped away peacefully in my wife’s arms, her hand clasped within mine. Depending on the circumstances, these interventions both drain and sustain life in varying proportions. I had no more knowledge of the future than does one with a terminal cancer diagnosis. But sometimes the greatest peace of all is the acceptance that comes with understanding the limits of humanity.

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