Doctor Writes Emotional Letter to David Bowie About Terminally Ill Patient

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Dr. Mark Taubert, a palliative care doctor at Velindre NHS Trust in the U.K., wrote a letter to David Bowie thanking the iconic musician for helping him discuss death with one of his terminally ill patients.

After 18 months living with cancer, Bowie died on Jan. 10, and the letter was published on the BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care blog on Jan 15. The Sunday after, Bowie’s son Duncan Jones tweeted a link to the letter addressed to his dad.

In it, Taubert describes the conversation he had with a woman who is “facing the end of her life.”

“We discussed your death and your music, and it got us talking about numerous weighty subjects, that are not always straightforward to discuss with someone facing their own demise,” Taubert wrote. “In fact, your story became a way for us to communicate very openly about death, something many doctors and nurses struggle to introduce as a topic of conversation.”

Taubert says many individuals think death is something that happens in clinical settings, but that he presumes Bowie chose to spend his final days at home. “This is one of our aims in palliative care, and your ability to achieve this may mean that others will see it as an option they would like fulfilled,” Taubert wrote.

Circling back around to the conversation Taubert had with his patient, he wrote:

“[W]e talked about a good death, the dying moments and what these typically look like … [She told me] that she wanted to be at home when things progressed, not in a hospital or emergency room, but that she’d happily transfer to the local hospice should her symptoms be too challenging to treat at home.”

Taubert concluded the letter by thanking Bowie and wrote:

“We both wondered who may have been around you when you took your last breath and whether anyone was holding your hand. I believe this was an aspect of the vision she had of her own dying moments that was of utmost importance to her, and you gave her a way of expressing this most personal longing to me, a relative stranger.”

You can read Taubert’s post in its entirety on the BMJ blog.

h/t Irish Times

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To the Person Who Doesn’t Want to Go Out Because You Feel ‘Fat’

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Living out a cancer diagnosis has changed me. There is less room for the negative, because life has proven that there is so much to grateful for. But I still struggle in a pretty spectacular way with the living out of what has changed inside of me.

True confession here. My high school girl friends have an annual coffee Thanksgiving weekend. These women are beautiful, kind, generous, compassionate, brilliant, successful and funny. I love them. I treasure them and the instant conversation that ensues when I join their company. Time has never passed. These ladies are quality.

I’m big into old friends are the best friends, staying connected, investing into relationships. You get what you give, and I want these ladies in my life.

I skip this awesome tradition almost every year. Because I feel fat.

Yep. I stay in my house and miss the conversation and the hugs and laughter and friendship because I’ve been convinced that my size would be too much to overcome and surely overshadow any talking we could do. It would be the elephant in the room, pun intended.

Warning. I save my bad words and I am going to use them for this. That is such bullsh*t. Not one of the world’s smallest measurement of judgment has ever come forth from my friends. Never. Ever. That’s why I love them so much. We look at hearts and brains, not shoes and sizes.

Me. I judged myself. Deemed myself unacceptable and unworthy because the annual coffee falls on a day where I’ve had a couple days of overindulging and I would be up a few pounds.

Story gets happy now. I went this year. Decided two weeks ago I was going. Granted, I showed up on the wrong day, but the motivation was there. Same weight, much worse hair cut, but a changed heart. How incredibly selfish and small I’ve acted. How incredibly freeing to finally get it.

Are you so sick of hearing of this new post-cancer perspective on life? Too bad. I’m going to repeat it until you get it, because you are worth it. Whatever you are worrying about, whatever is holding you back — here is what I think might be happening. It might just be you and your own insecurities, and your own inner dialogue might not be entirely accurate.

You don’t know what tomorrow will look like. Our outer beauty is fading by the moment.

What you have today and what you are is enough. I promise.

Heather (center) and two friends smiling outdoors
Heather (center) and two friends smiling outdoors
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Fans Started Hashtag for Taylor Swift to Meet Teen With Cancer

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Delaney Clements is one of Taylor Swift’s biggest fans. 

So when the 13-year-old, who’s been facing cancer for five years, began hospice care at her home in Grand Junction, Colorado, fellow “Swifties” came up with a plan. The fandom created the #DelaneyMeetTaylor hashtag to get the pop star’s attention.

It worked.

On Saturday, Swift surprised Delaney with a home visit.

“Literally speechless right now!!!!!” the teen wrote afterwards on Instagram. “My new best friend (as I call her now) made a special stop from going home to Tennessee and surprised me and gave me the best present/hug ever!!”

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The Mighty, in partnership with Fuck Cancer, is asking the following: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten or a mantra that spoke to you following your diagnosis?  Find out how to email us a story submission here.

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Why I Feel Guilty After My Husband Survived Cancer

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One time, a few years ago, someone I loved had cancer.

He caught it the way most people do, unexpectedly and without warning. Just months before his diagnosis, I’d been the one in a hospital gown. He faithfully attended my prenatal appointments and then held my hand while I pushed a seven-pound baby into the world, changing our lives forever. Little did we know it would be one of two life-changing moments over the course of three months, because suddenly the roles reversed. Now cancer was growing in our house instead of my growing belly. He’d officially become a cancer patient, and I’d officially become the person at his side. The person they call wife but also caregiver; the person who could become a widow if everyone isn’t careful.

It’s hard these days to talk about his cancer. With time, you’d think it would become easier, but I’m finding the opposite to be true.

There’s this thing called survivor’s guilt — maybe you’ve heard of it? Survivor’s guilt is a mental condition where someone feels bad because they’ve survived a traumatic event when others did not. Survivor’s guilt can take on a lot of different forms, and people can feel it after walking away from a deadly car crash, making it home after war or even in something as simple as keeping your job during company wide layoffs.

My husband, Jonathan, had stage IV cancer, but even he experiences survivor’s guilt. I remember leaving chemotherapy with him one Friday, and he commented that he shouldn’t complain because his cancer was so treatable, and he was young.

A few months later I bought him a bold yellow shirt that said “survivor” across the front. He wore it once to please me and never put it on again. “Survivor,” in his mind, is nothing to tell the world about. He didn’t do anything to claim survivor status; his body just had a treatable cancer that happened to respond to drugs. He’d rather wear his Seattle Seahawks shirt than call any more attention to himself. His bald head and missing eyebrows had been enough of a conversation starter.

I feel guilty a lot these days, too. When I talk or write about cancer, I tell myself I have no place to do so. He is the one who had chest pain, not me. He is the one who saw the doctor’s concerned face, not me. He is the one with scars on his chest, not me. He is the one who actually, literally, survived, not me. I am, I was, simply the caregiver.

I showed up to chemotherapy with him, I made him mild dinners, I helped give him shots when he needed them and I accompanied him to the emergency room a few times. At the end of it all, he became a survivor, and I went back to being simply, wonderfully, his wife. He dodged death, and I dodged becoming a widow. I didn’t earn an official title, but I took back the one I’d been given on our wedding day. There’s no T-shirt to wear, not that I’d want one if there was.

But although my role as caregiver was supposed to be a temporary identity changer, I am forever marked by the dreaded, whispered six-letter word we fought together.

I may not have a shirt, but I wear “survivor” on my mind and heart. I survived in a different way. I survived the awkward “’What’s new with you?’ ‘Oh, my husband has cancer’” conversations. I survived being our family’s PR agent, managing communication with our friends and families and the pitied looks from strangers. I survived the what-ifs and the won’t-go-theres. I survived that terrible flight when he was throwing up in the security line while I juggled our luggage, baby, stroller and Christmas presents. I survived pumping breast milk in a tiny sterile doctor’s office while he received chemo outside the door. I survived the greatest scare of my life — that I might lose him.

I can’t describe to you exactly how it made his chest hurt, but I can tell you about that night we pulled off a freeway at 11 p.m. because he was in too much pain to drive. I couldn’t tell you what it’s like to think you might be dying, but I can tell you what it’s like to think about becoming a widow. I can’t explain the pain of a bone marrow biopsy, but I can tell you how white his knuckles got as the doctor screwed a huge needle into his back. Cancer never lived in my body, but pain sure did. My pain came from the watching and the waiting.

One time, a few years ago, someone I love had cancer. And it has forever changed me, too.

Follow this journey on Lesleym.com.

The Mighty, in partnership with Fuck Cancer, is asking the following: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten or a mantra that spoke to you following your diagnosis?  Find out how to email us a story submission here.

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The Awesome Reason This Boy Is Dressing Up as Your Favorite Movie Characters

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Jack Churchman has been growing out his hair for two years, and he plans to donate his locks to the Western Australia Cancer Council. But the 9-year-old from Perth, Australia, wanted to do something a little more creative to help children with cancer, so he started dressing up as their favorite movie characters.

Jack’s mother, Suzannah Churchman, told Daily Mail Australia her son got the idea to help after spending time with children in his sister’s class who have cancer. “We’d see them off sick or unable to do things, and Jack asked if there was anything we could do and he came up with this idea,” Churchman told the website.

Jack told the website that his sister Daisy helps by making props and his mother does the hair and makeup. Jack takes requests from patrons donating more than $10, and every day he posts a new scene or character on his Facebook page. He’s done about 90 posters so far, and raised more than $5,000 for the Western Australia Cancer Council.

 

 

Be sure to check out more of Jack’s amazing images on his Facebook page and website.

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Bride's Family Portrait Honoring Her Late Son Is Heartbreakingly Beautiful

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Anna Bozman Thompson lost her son, Lake, in May to leukemia. He was just three weeks shy of his 9th birthday, according to the Prayers for Lake Bozman Facebook page.

Thompson recently married her longtime boyfriend, Travis Thompson, in Colbert, Georgia. The couple had put their wedding on hold for years to focus on Lake’s health, Fox News reported, although their wedding was something Lake had always wanted. Despite plans for the beautiful outdoor wedding, Thompson was not looking forward to the family photo portion of the big day — taking pictures without Lake would be understandably difficult for the grieving mother.

But Thompson’s friend, photographer Brandy Angel, not only photographed the wedding, but made sure Lake would have a way of being there. Angel worked with a man named Paul Woodward to photoshop Lake into the family portrait.

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Courtesy of Brandy Angel Photography

“Although my family will never be complete here on Earth, we will be in Heaven,” Thompson told Fox News. “I do know that ️Lake has been watching over us especially when we got married. He made sure that it would be a day that none of us would forget. Although I felt his presence that day and I was actually happy, it was almost unbearable to take family pictures without him.”

Now, when Thompson looks back at her big day, she’ll be able to see, and feel, Lake’s presence.

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