Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A Goode news story

In a moving article in yesterday's Independent headlined Prepare to die, the doctors told me, but they were wrong there was an account of Andy Goode, married to Kate and father of Rachel. In May 2010, at the age of 47, he was given the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. "The consultant radiologist broke the news to him that he had a large tumour on his pancreas." It was later the same day he was told he should prepare for his death. I don't suppose that the scan was wrong or that the consultant didn't know his anatomy.
from The Independent
"I was in and out of hospital and to be honest, that time is a complete blur," he says. "At times, I just wanted to get on with dying and other times, I wanted to fight back." Then he was told, the cancer looked atypical; it wasn't the usual shape. His health started to improve. "Then, shortly before Christmas, I got the news there was never any cancer and I wasn't going to die." His wife and daughter were ecstatic, but strangely he wasn't. The article records honestly his shock and his struggle to come to terms with the "good news". Life wasn't suddenly all roses. He suffered from depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and received counselling on the NHS.

"A year on, Goode says he could not appreciate life more if he tried. 'I truly understand how short life can be, so now if I want to do something, I just do it. Whereas I used to sit at home a lot, I think we do something every weekend – concerts, see friends, go surfing, go to comedy shows – you name it. I'm more honest with people, too. My friends are dear to me but conversely, if someone doesn't get on with me, I tend to think, "If you don't want to be around me, then don't be".'

"While Goode says he hasn't 'found God' exactly, he is more open to the idea of religion now. He's also experienced a newfound empathy for the terminally ill, especially those with pancreatic cancer."

It occurs to me that at a number of points in his story Andy might have been tempted to take the easy way out for himself and end it all, both after the diagnosis while his condition raged horribly and after his reprieve when he would regularly shout, including in front of Rachel, that he wished he was dead. Especially with the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, one of the most virulent of killers, if the option of choosing euthanasia had been available to him, how tempting it would have been for him to have taken that route - and how terrible for his wife and daughter! 

Though voluntary euthanasia's proponents profess considerable faith in medics' diagnoses and prognoses, the truth is that experiences as inexplicable and unexpected as Andy Goode's can and do happen. What a tragedy it would be for even a few people like Kate and Rachel Goode to lose years with their loved ones because assisted suicide became acceptable! And what a waste of life!

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