WBEZ | dying http://www.wbez.org/tags/dying Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Uncle dying of cancer rescues niece from abusive relationship http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/uncle-dying-cancer-rescues-niece-abusive-relationship-111145 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/scuncle.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Don Perry and his wife, Lee Ann, don&rsquo;t have children.</p><p>But Don&rsquo;s niece, Beth McCarthy, has always been close to her uncle and aunt.</p><p>When Don found out recently that he has Stage 4 prostate cancer, Beth brought him to the StoryCorps booth to relive some significant moments from both of their lives.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember you and Lee Ann when I was a kid,&rdquo; Beth said. &ldquo;I thought you guys were just so cool.&rdquo;</p><p>Beth brought up her uncle&rsquo;s cancer diagnosis, it&rsquo;s metastasized to his lungs.</p><p>&ldquo;We know you don&rsquo;t have that much longer&hellip;&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Don believes that with hormone therapy, he might live four or five years.</p><p>Beth questions whether her uncle believes in the afterlife.</p><p>&ldquo;No. No. Absolutely not,&rdquo; Don answered.</p><p>A while back, Don had a next-door-neighbor who was dying of brain cancer. He lived sixteen months, which is more than they thought he would. They had been good friends for 20 years.</p><p>&ldquo;And it was very hard for me just to face him because of all the baggage I had,&rdquo; Don said, &ldquo;And I just felt so inadequate that I couldn&rsquo;t say anything, that I actually avoided him.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know what to say to you,&rdquo; Beth said. &ldquo;It just makes me so sad to know that you&rsquo;re not going to be around. And you&rsquo;ve meant so much to me.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It just seems so unfair,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Well, I&rsquo;m actually pretty good with that,&rdquo; Don said.</p><p>Then, Beth said something she had wanted to say for a long time. &ldquo;I guess I&rsquo;m just so grateful for what you did for me,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I feel like you saved my life completely, literally.&rdquo;</p><p>Years ago, she was living in Boston with a boyfriend who was beating her up pretty regularly. Beth called Don and asked him to help her.</p><p>&ldquo;We just left. And I wouldn&rsquo;t have survived the next time,&rdquo; Beth said to her uncle, Don.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/uncle-dying-cancer-rescues-niece-abusive-relationship-111145 Journalist and doctor encourage honest conversations about death http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/journalist-and-doctor-encourage-honest-conversations-about-death-110729 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 140829 Mary Randi bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago journalist<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-01-18/news/1001170139_1_chicago-reporter-cltv-chicago-mayor-richard-daley"> Carlos Hernandez Gomez</a>, a former WBEZ staffer died from colon cancer in 2010. His wife, WGN Reporter Randi Belisomo, says she was caught off guard by the death, even though he had been fighting illness for some time. Afterwards, Belisomo<a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/08/13/learning-talk-about-death"> teamed up with one of his doctors, Mary Mulcahy</a>, to get people talking about end-of-life issues. Together, they created an organization called<a href="http://www.lifemattersmedia.org"> Life Matters Media</a>.</p><p>In this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps, Belisomo tells Dr. Mulcahy, &ldquo;You, being his doctor, you would always say, &lsquo;We can treat you Carlos, but we can&rsquo;t cure you.&rsquo; And so we treated and we treated and we treated, but nobody ever said, &lsquo;You&rsquo;re dying.&rsquo; And one day I lost him, suddenly. It shouldn&rsquo;t have come as a surprise but it did. And so months down the road, I asked you that question: &lsquo;Why didn&rsquo;t you ever tell me that Carlos was dying?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;My original answer was: &lsquo;I did,&rsquo;&rdquo; Dr. Mulcahy tells Belisomo. &ldquo;But, in thinking about it, I realized that I probably never used those words.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Why not?&rdquo; Belisomo asks.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, it&rsquo;s hard to know when someone is dying,&rdquo; Mulcahy says. &ldquo;It was true that he was going to die&hellip;but he wasn&rsquo;t dying at the time. When somebody is still treating their disease, it&rsquo;s hard to have both of those things in parallel: You&rsquo;re treating their disease, but they&rsquo;re dying. Something&rsquo;s gotta give. And I think, at the time, the mode was to treat the disease. And we could talk about him dying when we didn&rsquo;t have treatment.&rdquo;</p><p>Since co-founding Life Matters Media, Dr. Mulcahy says she&rsquo;s more direct with patients and their families when death is near. She sees her role differently too. She wants to help people get as much out of life as they can, and to use what time they have left wisely. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve learned that the more you do talk about end of life and planning for end of life, it isn&rsquo;t as scary,&rdquo; Mulcahy says. &ldquo;It isn&rsquo;t something to be avoided&hellip;Whether you use the words dying or not, even if somebody is going to die, it&rsquo;s reasonable to have these conversations.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;What would a good end of life experience be?&rdquo; Belisomo asks.</p><p>&ldquo;Somebody who is at peace with the fact that their life is ending,&rdquo; Mulcahy says. &ldquo;They have come to terms with it to the best that they can. They have said the things that are important to their loved ones. Their loved ones have had the opportunity to tell them how important they were to their life.&rdquo;</p><p>When someone is preparing to die, &ldquo;Everything should be in order,&rdquo; Belisomo says. &ldquo;Saying what you want to say, knowing that the people you love are taken care of, doing all that you can. People think they&rsquo;re being strong by saying I&rsquo;m gonna fight, fight, fight, and I&rsquo;m gonna beat whatever disease with which I&rsquo;m afflicted, but I think the truly strong person can look at the whole scope of the situation and take care of their relationships and their unfinished business.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/journalist-and-doctor-encourage-honest-conversations-about-death-110729 Christopher Hitchens' guide to dying http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/christopher-hitchens-guide-dying-102584 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Christopher%20Hitchens.jpg" style="height: 524px; width: 400px; float: left; " title="The late essayist Christopher Hitchens (AP Photo/Chad Rachman, File)" /></div><p>As an essayist and columnist Christopher Hitchens was omnivorous. He wrote on anything and everything that piqued his curiosity. He commented, critiqued and satirized poetry, politics, politicians, popular culture, media personalities and religion. Nothing was safe from his scrutiny.</p><p>And so, of course, when he was suddenly faced with the great &ldquo;mystery of mysteries,&rdquo; his own pending death from esophageal cancer, he dealt with is the way he dealt with all of life &mdash; he wrote about it. The result of his efforts is recently-released&nbsp;<em>Mortality</em>, a slim volume of seven essays that chronicle his 18-month end-of-life journey through &ldquo;Tumorville.&rdquo; (There is an eighth chapter, but it is made up of fragments and notes that he jotted down in his last days.)</p><p>There&rsquo;s an old military saying: &ldquo;There are no atheists in foxholes.&rdquo; That&#39;s when the bullets and bombs start to fly, and saying goes, and everybody believes in God. But Hitchens wrote a best-selling book denying the existence of God (<em>God is Not Good</em>) and didn&rsquo;t change his tune as his &ldquo;vulgar little tumor&rdquo; took his life. Was he sad about dying? Of course. Did he &ldquo;desperately&rdquo; want to live? Doesn&rsquo;t everyone? Was he angry about facing the end? Absolutely. But did he take it personally? Did he wonder &ldquo;why me?&rdquo; No, never. In his &ldquo;year of living dyingly,&rdquo; he understood and accepted that the &ldquo;alien tumor that was burrowing into me&rdquo; was not a personal affront, but just a fact of life. It was malignant tumor. It was &ldquo;single-mindedly&rdquo; doing what it was supposed to do to him. It was spreading though his body and killing him.</p><p>Although he didn&rsquo;t want to die and although he sought out the best medical help possible Hitchens&rsquo; prose clearly conveys his conviction that his death was neither tragic or unique. Bad things happen in life and it was happening to him. He did not want it. He did not like it. But he refused to wallow in self-pity and lament the ultimate absurdity of exsistence. Rather at the end he took time to remember the importance of love, the importance of relationships; and the joys of the mind.</p><p>I have been an admirer of Hitchens, but never a major fan. I thought some of his arguments and writings too slick, too polished, too cleaver. But after reading <em>Mortality</em>, my admiration for him has grown. He faced death with dignity and grace. And whether or not you believe in God and an after-life, his was a &ldquo;good death&rdquo; &mdash; one worthy of emulating.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Tue, 25 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/christopher-hitchens-guide-dying-102584