I have read a story that makes me thinking and feeling.

A 90 years old woman was diagnosed with uterine cancer. And as any diagnosis, she received a proposal for a treatment: in this case surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Her doctors explained with meticulous the details, treatment and side effects. And at the end, the patient (Norma) said:

“I’m 90 years old, I’m dying, but I’m not going to do it in a hospital far from my family”.

She decided to refuse the treatment and to travel in convoy by United States with her son and enjoy her last time with his company.

She decided to love life.

At the beginning, her doctors did not understand her decision. But then, they realized: sometimes one wins by losing.

Sometimes, physians are so focused in making diagnoses and bright treatments that we can forget what is important. “Trees do not let us see the forest”.

Anyone have a biography: a past, a family, a few dreams, some illusions, a way of life…

And we should learn to make choices shared with patients: listen to understand them, evaluating every person on a global basis, and not as a disease. Although many times could be hard for us, we should accept the rejection of treatment by people informed, competent, autonomous and that are consistent with their decisions.

It is about treating them as they would like to be treated, not to us.

Dra. Olga Rubio
Intensive care physician
Fundació Althaia Hospital Sant Joan de Déu