Personal Views

“Quiet consummation have”

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 30 September 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:882
  1. Betty Bridger
  1. lives in Cardiff

    It is a bit late now. I am fighting for the dying rights--not rites--of my husband, an academic, a philosopher, whom we cremated one day last year. That day I was able to stand by his coffin and read aloud Shakespeare's wonderful poem from Cymbeline:

    “Fear no more the heat o'the sun Nor the furious winter's rages Thou thy worldly task has done Home art gone and ta'en thy wages… Quiet consummation have And renowned be thy grave!”

    Alas, his actual death was not a consummation. He was diagnosed four and a half years ago with a rare cancer, pseudomyxoma, and treated throughout his illness with absolute professionalism, care, and sympathy. This form of cancer is rated indolent, appropriate in my husband's case, for he was a sedentary man given to thinking rather than doing.

    His end came suddenly. The previous Wednesday at his regular check up with his oncologist, he had laid no special emphasis on the fact that his collection of lumps was causing him more discomfort. His next appointment was made for December. At the weekend he developed an obstruction. He was vomiting and in pain. I called the doctor …

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