On Beating Cancer

Reacting to David Kuo’s brain tumors, Rod Dreher writes:

As with my late sister Ruthie, I know David is going to beat this cancer, even if it takes his life.

During the years I was a hospice volunteer counselor, I met a remarkable oncologist who offered a valuable perspective on his role as a physician:

Most oncologists say they treat cancer. I don’t treat cancer. I treat cancer patients. If you treat cancer, if you have to “beat cancer”, you will lose most of the time and start to feel angry and discouraged about your profession and maybe even angry at your patients for making you feel like a failure. But if you treat cancer patients, you realize that you are working fundamentally with a suffering human being, not a mass of malignant cells. And that means you can always be a good doctor, regardless of whether the patient lives or dies.