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Friday, September 7, 2007

You’re still going to take care of me?: Kindness in cancer care by a nurse patient advocate

In Margaret Edson’s play, W;t [Wit], the character Vivian is an independent, crotchety, cerebral English professor who has advanced ovarian cancer, and Susie is her kind, less educated nurse on the cancer ward. Near the end, Susie gives Vivian an orange popsicle for her raw throat.

Vivian: Susie? You're still going to take care of me, aren’t you?

Susie: 'Course, Sweetheart. Don't you worry.

Vivian, as an aside: That certainly was a maudlin display. Popsicles? "Sweetheart?" I can't believe my life has become so…corny.

But it can't be helped. I don't see any other way. We are discussing my life and my death, and my brain is dulling, and poor Susie's was never very sharp to begin with, and I can't conceive of any other…tone.

Now is not the time for, and nothing would be worse than a detailed analysis. Erudition. Interpretation. Complication.

Now is a time for simplicity. Now is a time for, dare I say it, kindness.

Read a story on compassionate nursing care at the end of life, or read W;t.

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