Cancer Is the 'Best Death'

Dr. Richard Smith argues it's the best way to go
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2015 1:10 PM CST
Cancer Is the 'Best Death'
This undated image made available by the National Institutes of Health and National Center shows cancerous cells cultured with fluorescent proteins.   (AP Photo/National Institutes of Health, National Center for Microscopy, Tom Deerinck)

If you exclude suicide, by Dr. Richard Smith's count there are four ways to die: sudden death, organ failure, dementia, and cancer. In a blog post for the British Medical Journal, which he edited until 2004, Smith picks cancer as the way he'd like to go—and notes that's not the route that others most often cite. The popular choice, "sudden death," is one he finds overly burdensome for your loved ones, who are left to put your affairs in order and deal with any "unhealed" wounds. He sees organ failure—respiratory, cardiac, or kidney—as similarly unpleasant, a fate involving too many doctors and too much time in the hospital. And while dementia's long road can end with death that comes like a "light kiss," he considers being "slowly erased" as perhaps the worst of the four. "So death from cancer is the best," he writes.

With it comes opportunity: to say your goodbyes, consider your life, and have a last everything—last meal, last visit to your favorite place, last time hearing your favorite song. And you can "prepare, according to your beliefs, to meet your maker or enjoy eternal oblivion." While acknowledging that he's romanticizing it somewhat, he just as romantically asserts that it is a death "achievable with love, morphine, and whisky." That is, if the doctors are kept at bay. He closes with the following: "Stay away from overambitious oncologists, and let's stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer, potentially leaving us to die a much more horrible death." There is one note, on competing interest, at the end of the post, which reads: "RS will die, perhaps soon: he's 62." Full post here. (More cancer stories.)

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