The reflections of a son on the possible nocebo and placebo in hastening or not his father’s death. My sense is that his father accepted the inevitable when he refused further treatment, and whether that made any difference in his remaining months is secondary rather than the further agony of additional treatment. And he taught those closest to him about these kinds of difficult decisions.
My father’s brother Joel died only a few months after his cancer was discovered. Until the day he died, Joel believed he would survive. Not only did this belief apparently not prolong his life, it also left his family and friends with many difficult, unanswered questions. My dad’s acceptance of his disease’s biology and his own mortality may have contributed to his average survival. It also provided me with the opportunity to understand him as a person rather than just as a parent. As I consider following in his footsteps, I am comforted by the realization that with this knowledge one can know how to let go.