The Unfairness of Death
Updated: Feb 1
We've all received news at one time when our first reaction is 'that's not fair.' It's one thing if it's a bad call at our child's Saturday soccer game, but it takes on a totally different meaning when it becomes a matter of life and death. Such was the case for my friend, Dr. Jeff Greene when I spoke to him in October 2022.
As a man in his early 60s, Dr. Greene appeared to be in good health. While he noticed some loss of appetite and weight, and persistent fatigue, he chalked it up to natural aging. However, when he continued to complain about being tired all the time, his wife insisted it was time to find out why.
“My only symptom was fatigue for about a year before my wife insisted that I go to the ER,” he said. When he came home from his last day of work on August 4, his wife took him to the ER to get checked. From the ER he was admitted to the hospital where tests were done. He would soon learn that being tired was the least of his worries.
On August 4, 2022, a man who had never smoked, drunk alcohol or used intravenous drugs was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma, a common cancer of the liver. Worse, by the time it was diagnosed, the cancer had spread to both lungs and his pelvis.
Given the cancer's advanced stage, typical approaches to treatment would not be productive, but he was told with no treatment he has six months to live. However, with monoclonal antibiotics he could extend that another six months. He is now taking monoclonal antibodies in his doctor’s office every three weeks. This has improved his appetite and he is in no pain.
“I never planned to take treatments, yet I can see that my family needs this extended time,” he told me. This fits the research I have seen about how physicians deal with serious illness. They understand the trajectory of their case, they know what treatments can and can’t do and typically opt out of aggressive care and choose the palliative path.
“I’m a laid-back guy," he said. "My hope is in my salvation. I do not dread what is before me.” Let us all pray that our Father God works his will and that deep abiding peace settles over Dr. Greene and all of those who love him--including me.
NOTE: From a conversation I had with Dr. Greene on October 22, 2022