The Healing Touch
I couldn’t look him in the eye. Did he grasp that there was no chance of a cure? Surely his oncologist had advised him on his prognosis during their meetings. Did he understand that the treatments had severe side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, weakness, and confusion?
Mr. C wore a wooden cross around his neck. I asked, “Did someone make that for you?”
He replied, “My nephew.”
I noticed the Bible beside his bed: “Are you spiritual?”
“Well, I try to be.”
“Do you feel you have enough social support? Do you have people you can talk to about what you’re going through?”
“Oh, yes, my priest comes everyday. My family comes everyday, but I try not to worry them too much. My daughter is pregnant with her first child–my first grandchild–and I want her to take care of herself.”
Attempting to change the conversation to a happier subject, I said, “When is the baby due?”
“Six months from now. Do you think…do you think I’ll be able to see the birth of my grandson?” He leaned forward, anxious to hear my response.
How could I answer? To be completely honest, I would have told him, “No.” Yet he had faith that with aggressive multi-drug combination chemotherapy and radiation, he would survive in time for his grandson’s birth. Not wanting to tear that hope away from him, I responded, “Well, I’m not the expert. I think your oncologist could give you a better answer. But I do know that these things are hard to predict.”