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Medical Ethics Musings: On Caring

April 12, 2010 • Posted in End of Life

By R. Henry Williams, M.D., M.A. Chair, Tennessee CBC Board of Directors

Photo:  “Time of Life” by L. Ian Riley

Recently an elderly, long-time patient was brought to my office by his two daughters, who were upset after a visit with his oncologist.  His multiple myeloma and general condition were such that chemotherapy was no longer being recommended.  The oncologist had suggested that they consider hospice care.  The daughters were shocked.  From their perspective, Dad was not in a state of obvious decline, and he was not in any pain.  They expressed to me a feeling of abandonment, and they were turning to me, his more

Family Care at the End of Life: A Personal Reflection

April 12, 2010 • Posted in End of Life

R. Henry  Williams, M.D., M.A. Board Chair Tennessee Center for Bioethics and Culture December 2007

My father-in-law, Ken Johnson, died this fall at age ninety-five. His life was marked by love, faith, uncommon friendliness, and the greatest smile I have ever known.  

As a physician interested in end-of-life issues, I found Ken’s life and death particularly inspiring and instructive.  Prostate cancer, heart disease, and three strokes gradually eroded his quality of life, but could not take away his love for his wife and family, his faith, or his smile.  Neither did illness erase what we saw in him as a man, a father, a more