I SIT WATCHING THE GRACEFUL WHITE SWANS GLIDING ALONG THE ZurichSee, Lake Zurich on another crisp sunshine bright early morning. I have had a wonderful shower compete with hair conditioner and a breakfast that included gluten-free bread which the hotel remembered from last August when I visited here last not at all contemplating a return visit so soon and especially not on this sad occasion.
After two weeks of researching the Holocaust victims' yearning for survival in the midst of unimaginable horror, I watch my dear cousin Nora and her husband Robi struggle with his metastasized lung cancer, which, although diagnosed only in January and which responded so well to the four months of chemo that followed, is not only in his liver, spine and brain, but seems to be causing extreme nausea and fatigue for which he has now been hospitalized since Wednesday. Although he refused to see me when Nora inquired, knowing I was arriving, I accompanied her to the hospital yesterday intending to wait in the lounge while she visited her husband. However when we arrived on the unit he was walking to the toilet, pushing his drip tree along. As we both waited in the lounge he returned and invited me in to his four person large airy high floor room overlooking the river with the still snow-topped Alps in the distance.
The question is does he want a feeding tube inserted if he cannot swallow. Does he want vigorous treatment, mild symptom relief or no treatment at this point. How awful to have to decide such a question when there is no chance for survival. The hospital team will do a PET scan today and by Monday may have more information to help guide him to his decision.
How do we let go?