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Difficult, Unspoken Questions

Fri, 08/09/2013 - 9:25am
Bruce Campbell, M.D. Medical College of Wisconsin Otolaryngologist

Do not now look for the answers…At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer.

-Rainer Maria Rilke   

Two men, Ted and Ron, were long-term professional colleagues. I do not believe that they were particularly close, but they had been acquainted during their working lives. Each had retired. 

In what was a remarkable coincidence, both men were diagnosed with nearly identical cancers. The tumors were of the same type, location and stage. They each came to see me, Ted first and then, several months later, Ron. 

Ted was the first to undergo cancer treatment. It was rugged but he recovered well. By the time Ron was diagnosed, Ted had recovered completely. 

The two men must have re-connected before Ron came for his first appointment, because he was well prepared. Ted had already filled him in on what to expect. 

"Ted has been a great help,” Ron said. His wife agreed. “How soon can we get started?" 

Ron's treatment was also rugged, but he recovered completely, as well. At subsequent follow-up visits, they each occasionally mentioned the other. Things went very well for a couple of years. 

Unfortunately, Ted developed severe treatment complications and then a massive recurrence of his cancer. Despite several attempts to control the raging cancer, we ran out of treatment options.

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