Saturday, July 02, 2016

A Spot of Bother

My grandmother has a tumour.

Don't freak out. Relax though. Not only is it a slow-growing tumour barely in its nascency, there's very little chance my nonagenarian, edging to centenarian, grandmother could outlive said malignancy. Since that near inconsequential nugget of growth has done little to bother her, I've just sighed and shrugged over the diagnosis.

Which is the opposite of the extended family's reaction.

Think horror, heartbreak and hysteria - in a rapid succession of dispirited gushes at first, and then all three packed into one great big emotional eruption not seen since Krakatoa threw a ruckus back in 1883. News of my grandmother's spot of bother turned viral almost immediately with the entire family whatsapp group chat practically flooded in less than an hour with overwrought feeds from up and down the length of the Pacific coast.

With invariably more medical information within than the BMJ.

Too many doctors in the family indeed. Which is how my poor grandmother was immediately hurried through an entirely counterproductive battery of tests, scans and examinations, undoubtedly without her abject consent. Turns out I was the only one who questioned the sheer futility of undergoing such irksome procedures if my grandmother wouldn't give consent for further treatment.

Paul : More tests, really?
Cousin : But we have to get the correct diagnosis.
Paul : So what if you find the diagnosis but the patient refuses further treatment? 

To add further insult to injury, the overly solicitous, well-meaning aunts then decided to mislead my grandma by telling her it's all perfectly routine. All on the erroneous assumption that my grandmother's an addlepated, dimwitted fool - which, if you've been following my blog, she has proven repeatedly that she is decidedly not despite her growing decrepitude.

Hell, I would be pleased to be even half as lucid at her age.

And she would also say hell no, she won't go if they even suggested more surgery.

It shouldn't surprise me so much though since I've had similar experiences with other overanxious families hoping to hide the diagnosis from their loved ones in a peculiar bid to protect them. Seldom ends well though since I find such sentiments absolutely foolish and find myself utterly uncooperative with these provoking requests for a nondisclosure.

Relatives : Could you not inform my mother that she has cancer? 
Paul : She lived through some of the most turbulent times in China, went through two world wars, braved the rough seas to come here with two toddlers, then brought up the entire lot of you. You know what, I think she will survive knowing this. 
Relatives : It would make her depressed.
Paul : It would make her depressed to think that her children don't trust her with such information. 

Perhaps the ethical dilemma changes from patient to patient - with some preferring not to know - but really, how can we withhold such vital information from the patient themselves, especially if they are of sound mind. In my grandmother's case, it's certainly not her first brush with the big C - which the other relatives also tried to keep hush-hush - so I doubt receiving such information would be all that big a blow.

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