chemo
#1
I've been wondering, what is my responsibility, as a Catholic, to go through chemo or radiation? Am I obligated to go through it? From my experience with people I know, it usually doesn't help much. Can I refuse it? Would this be considered a giving up of hope?
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#2
You are not obligated to go through chemo.

- Lisa
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#3
We are required to use ordinary means to keep ourselves alive, such as food and water, exercise, and basic health care. We have the option to refuse extraordinary means such as life support machinery, surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. If a person is sick with cancer and would rather let nature take its course then he is morally permitted to do so.     

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

2278. Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.

The key principle in this statement is that one does not will to cause death. When a person has an underlying terminal disease, or their heart, or some other organ, cannot work without mechanical assistance, or a therapy being proposed is dangerous, or has little chance of success, then not using that machine or that therapy results in the person dying from the disease or organ failure they already have. The omission allows nature to takes its course. It does not directly kill the person, even though it may contribute to the person dying earlier than if aggressive treatment had been done.
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#4
(05-17-2009, 10:58 PM)donmar35 Wrote: I've been wondering, what is my responsibility, as a Catholic, to go through chemo or radiation? Am I obligated to go through it? From my experience with people I know, it usually doesn't help much. Can I refuse it? Would this be considered a giving up of hope?

No. In a way, such means are a rejection of God's will. I mean, people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for the sole purpose of eeking out a few months of painful living while ignoring what matters.
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#5
It's not as ridiculous as thinking that people are required to go through chemotherapy.
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#6
(05-22-2009, 09:34 PM)verenaerin Wrote:
(05-22-2009, 09:23 PM)Rosarium Wrote:
(05-17-2009, 10:58 PM)donmar35 Wrote: I've been wondering, what is my responsibility, as a Catholic, to go through chemo or radiation? Am I obligated to go through it? From my experience with people I know, it usually doesn't help much. Can I refuse it? Would this be considered a giving up of hope?

No. In a way, such means are a rejection of God's will. I mean, people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for the sole purpose of eeking out a few months of painful living while ignoring what matters.

That is a broad application to cancer treatment. Being diagnosed with cancer does not equate a death sentence. To assume getting treatment for a disease is a rejection of God's will is ridiculous. It is an assumption of the person's intent, and God's.

I said "in a way" and I never applied what you think I did. I said no to the question. Rejecting such treatment is not giving up hope (hope has nothing to do with physical life anyway, but God's will).
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#7
(05-22-2009, 09:22 PM)verenaerin Wrote:It depends on the situation. There are many cancer survivors. You would have to look at the factors involved- age, general health of the pt, tumor, staging, location, etc.

Article 2278 says you are not required to participate in "over-zealous" treatment or that "disproportionate to the expected outcomes", how does this apply to treatment with high cure rates?

Cancer "survivors" quite frequently develop another, terminal cancer within a few years of being "cured" of their original cancer.  Also, the improved "survival" rates we hear touted for breast cancer, for example, only mean that mammograms detect breast cancer earlier, not that surgery, chemo, or radiation cure breast cancer.  When cancer is detected earlier, the patient will live longer, no matter what is done.  The question is whether it's worth going through chemo or radiation to extend your life by a short time.  It's a personal decision.
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#8
Seriously, you need to differentiate between the cancers where you're doomed, and even chemo is unlikely to help, and where it's a fairly minor cancer, and thus chemo (not all is aggressive chemo where you'll lose all your hair) is likely to handle it.

Not using a minor chemo for a minor cancer, before it becomes major and aggressive, is more or less a form of suicide.
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#9
What is your definition of 'short time'?

I'd hazard a guess the women who endure 3-4 months of chemo, 1 month of radiation and 1 major surgery (which is standard treatment for stage II and III  BC) and live 5,10,15,20 more years find their time suffering worthwhile in regards to the 'short time' they earn from it.  Even Stage IV BC is now treated more as a chronic illness that women can survive many years with and with a decent quality of life then an immediate death sentence.

Regarding the OP.

It is between you, your doctor and your priest. If you are despairing it is one thing, if you are making the decision, in the face of a terminal or likely terminal cancer that you don't want to go through expensive, time consuming and painful treatment to maybe extend your life by a few weeks or months it is another. 

Cancer treatment is difficult but it is not the horror that you see in the movies. The drugs that you are given to lessen the side effects have become much better over the last 15 years. Many cancer patients manage to continue working and going about their regular lives during treatment. There are also alternative treatments if you choose to go that direction.
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