The Ways We Live and Die
02 Oct, 2011
In this episode, Avash Kalra and Teresa Lee lead a discussion on palliative care and the intricacies of dealing with end-of-life events, from the perspective of both physicians and patients.
Featured Guest: Dr. David Casarett, Associate Professor in the Division of Geriatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Last Acts: Discovering Possibility and Opportunity at the End of Life.
Dr. Casarett shares with us many stories from his experiences as a physician specializing in palliative care, including the story of Sylvester, the patient who inspired him to write his book. As patients discover they are at the end of life, they have many different ways of responding — including reconciliation, aggression, celebration, revenge, denial and many others. Dr. Casarett stresses the importance of battling the common assumption that the end of life is hopeless.
Avash and Teresa also discuss with host Casey McCluskey her own experiences with the possibility of death — stemming from Casey’s personal experience with breast cancer, diagnosed when she was a first year medical student. As medical students, the education on disease and healing is extensive. However, when it comes to dealing with the end of life, less opportunity is provided to develop answers to some of the difficult questions that many palliative care patients must deal with. Learning to bring hope to a family whose sense of loss is overwhelming is an additional topic that is explored in this episode.