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An indestructible patient

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 07 July 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:57
  1. Averil Stedeford (, retired hospice consultant in psychological medicine
  1. Oxford

    Recently I had the painful privilege of staying close to a friend—I shall call her M—through her final illness. M was 62 and suffering from lymphoma, diagnosed within a year of apparently successful treatment of carcinoma of the colon. Initial chemotherapy gave her a good remission, but when the lymphoma recurred it became clear that further aggressive treatment was inappropriate, and the decision was made to change to palliative care. After she confided this in me, I saw her regularly until her death five months later.

    “It seems she was crying out to die and we missed it”

    M was a woman with a great zest for living. On the day that palliative care was decided on, she began to plan a party, which she said would be “more important than my funeral.” Two months later this took place, bringing together her family, friends she had made through her professional life and her artistic interests, and neighbours. She had required several transfusions to keep her going. More blood two …

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