Today is 2 November: All Souls Day. My parish held a memorial mass in which the names of all those who passed after 31 October 2020 were read in their memory. I had let the kids know of this mass, but none of them attended with me. I was alone with my thoughts and memories – memories primarily of that period between her diagnosis and her death.
One of the clearest memories to return was her telling me shortly after returning home from her initial diagnosis “Well, I don’t want to die.” I don’t quite remember the context of that comment, but I do remember the comment itself, word for word. It still rattles around my head. That horrible disease and its “treatment” took even that desire to live from her, eventually driving her to cease anything but comfort measures, leaving me alone with her eventual silence, administering those measures and only able to hope that what I was doing was adequate to make her comfortable in the unconscious state she was in near the end. Powerless to do any more than follow a schedule and hope it was enough.
It pains me that the medical industry – likely due to health insurance rules (but I repeat myself – look up the history of health insurance if you’d like to understand that comment) – blithely whistles past so many graveyards by not routinely checking for markers for deadly, hidden cancers such as pancreatic. Had the marker been detected a year earlier during Kim’s physical – about the time they believe her cancer started “brewing” – how different might the outcome have been? How many people lost to this, and other, cancers that remain undetected before it is too late would still be with us if they simply checked for the marker antigens regularly? Instead of bemoaning how it isn’t detected until it has already metastasized, why wouldn’t they employ a known means to detect it?
This experience, coupled with the lunacy of COVID has definitely damaged – if not shattered – my faith in medicine and those who practice it.
Strange results from attending a remembrance mass.