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Hope, Sometimes It’s All We Got

In this month’s issue of Business Week, there’s an article titled “Lessons of a $618,616 Death” written my Amanda Bennett (The article can be read online here) about the costs of fighting her husband’s kidney cancer that had metastasized to his lungs. As I read the article, I initially thought that it would be an article solely discussing the health insurance system in the US and the healthcare system itself. I thought it would be focusing on the numbers revolving around treating cancer, from the costs of treatment, the thick medical records patients accumulate, and the statistics revolving around survival rates and drug effectiveness. A quantitative analysis, an objective look at treating a cancer patient. However, as I read on, these numbers began to take a backseat to the rest of the story. The story of a family and their battle with cancer. A story that I, and countless others, are all too familiar with. A story of hope and fighting against all odds. Her story is one of strength and emotion.

It is a solemn reminder of what we face in today’s healthcare system, regardless of whether it is private or public. We’re all caught up on the numbers. The cost of things, the chances of survival, anything with some value attached to it. We all forget the strength of hope and one person’s will to live. We forget about all those things that you can’t attach a price tag to. Some comments on the Business Week website claim that the “socially responsible” thing to do (in this case and others) would be to decline treatment  for “the greater social good and society’s cost savings.” Some accused the article of not discussing how to “[fix] medical cost or how to fix health care.” Others talk about how we shouldn’t hope as much as we do, as it becomes a failure to accept reality. These “pragmatic” solutions are easy to offer and propose as an outsider, but once you’re in that seat everything changes. I feel like I can say this on the behalf of most people, but when you or your loved ones are sick or injured, you’ll do anything to help them get better. I know it’s cliche, but it really isn’t over until it’s over. Even if there is only a 1% chance of survival, or only a slim chance that a treatment will help, we’ll take it if it’s the only thing left to try. And regardless of what it is, we’ll always hope. We’re lost and powerless without hope. Without hope, where would we be? Have we forgotten those heroes who have shown us what true willpower is? Have we forgotten about Terry Fox and his marathon of hope? Have we forgotten of all those who have beaten the odds and recovered from what doctors and their statistics said was impossible? Have we become cold-hearted and fallen victim to pragmatism? Have we tried to put a price on a human life? Have we tried to put a price on love? The moment we forget about hope and put that price tag onto life, we lose our greatest strength, we lose our humanity. We merely become all parts of a machine.

However, amongst the hundreds of comments, there were also many from readers who can relate to Amanda, written by either those currently battling cancer or other diseases/disorders and their supporters. They’ve shared their stories and provided their support to everyone else. It doesn’t matter whether’s it cancer, MS, diabetes. They’ve all come together sharing a common cause. The most powerful comment was simple. All it said was “Thank you Amanda.” I couldn’t have put it better myself. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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