A death photographed: one patient's story

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 24 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:233
  1. Simon O'Connor, medical director and general practitioner (,
  2. Paul Schatzberger, general practitioner and photographer,
  3. Sheila Payne, professor of palliative care
  1. St Luke's Hospice, Sheffield
  2. Sheffield
  3. Trent Palliative Care Centre, University of Sheffield

    Michael Willson managed his death in his own way. Having photographs taken was an important part of this management, and the images were pinned up on the walls all around him in his house. More photographs are shown on, and below are Michael's own words on the project, as well as comments from his general practitioner and the photographer

    Michael Willson, who was born in 1947, was a self employed psychologist who did consultancy work for the probation service. He was very well respected locally and nationally. He was a free spirit and charismatic and had a wide circle of friends. He liked riding his horse bareback.

    In 1994 he presented with anaemia, epigastric pain, and malaise. Gastroscopy showed carcinoma of the gastrooesophageal junction. He underwent oesophago-gastrectomy with splenectomy, but unfortunately tumour was present at the resection margins. He declined the offer of palliative chemotherapy. At this time his prognosis was poor. …

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