The Guardian

Instead of prolonging life, a dying patient’s final wish is an antidote for our times | Ranjana Srivastava

‘Cancer treatment has entered an era where there is always “something else” on offer. But whether that something else delivers benefit, and at what financial and psychological cost, is a whole different conversation.’ Photograph: Roberto Pastrovicchio/Alamy

“I am worried that you’re getting sicker. Help me understand your wishes.”

In a way, this is an impossible question for a man too breathless to talk. The moment his oxygen mask shifts, what little he says is lost in the jangle of machines. The flashing numbers are not compatible with life but, disturbingly, the final question is always the same: intubate or palliate? One invites lights, machines and a stab at prolonging life. The other is a path away from heroics and towards an acceptance of mortality.

For two vastly dissimilar choices, it’s astonishing how often they are perceived and offered as equal. Having never met him, I don’t know

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