August 14, 2011

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Care Packages

I’d like to thank Kathleen Burge for her excellent, compassionate article about palliative care (“A Better Kind of Care,” July 24), focusing in part on Paul White. Ten years ago, I was working through these issues with my husband, who had been diagnosed with throat cancer. After surgery and radiation affected his ability to swallow and G-tube feeding became necessary, he decided to forgo chemotherapy. I watched a once hearty man with an outsize love for life gradually wither away. But the last few months were amazing, because we spent great quality time with each other and our son. My husband was able to hike, target-practice, go for boat rides – do things he loved to do. We traveled cross-country to see his huge family and many friends. Our hospice team thought we were nuts, but he did it his way and I supported his decision. His life may have been shorter but it was very rich. For many, the decision to stop treatment and find some moments of peace in the time they have left may be the best option. I salute Dr. Vicki Jackson and her palliative care team at Massachusetts General Hospital for encouraging hope and counseling families through their difficult journeys.

Sharon Binelli / Newbury

My issue with Burge’s piece is that she states that hospice care is not palliative care. It is. Hospice care is not about death. It is about quality of life when one faces a terminal diagnosis. The comfort care that hospice provides is comprehensive, its goal being physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort for the patient and his or her family. It is an unfortunate myth that hospice is an immediate death sentence. While not all palliative care is hospice, all hospice is most definitely palliative.

Donna Hamer / Reading

As a health care consultant, I know that the issues Burge raises are essential. As a wife whose husband has been treated for lung cancer this year, her piece touched my soul.

Ellen Lutch Bender / Newton

Differing Perspectives

In Ezra Dyer’s essay, “Forward This to All Your Friends” (Perspective, July 31), he argues that Republicans have gotten ahead in the viral e-mail game of politics. While this would seem true, his solution – that Democrats should start slinging more mud back – clearly misses the point. At a time when politics is already filled with almost nothing but invective, to increase the arms race, as he suggests, would only make those involved even less likely to be able to reach the compromises necessary to keep this country from imploding. I would humbly submit that instead of Democrats going more on the attack, both sides should declare a cease-fire. They should instead focus on areas where they can work together and talk more about the good works they have done and their plans to rescue us from ourselves. Who knows? Democrats and Republicans may (re)discover that by working together, good things happen.

James W. Newton / Barnstable

I recently received an e-mail from an old, intelligent, well-educated friend (albeit a Republican – possible oxymoron here) on the concept of “dhimmitude.” When I see from whence these things are coming, I usually muster just enough energy to reach the delete key, but in this case I read it. According to the author, dhimmitude originates in sharia law and President Obama has buried it deeply in the text of the “Obamacare” plan, where it exempts practicing Muslims in the United States from the dreaded “mandate” while, at the same time, providing them with free health care coverage. I went immediately to to find a complete debunking of this nonsense. I really enjoyed sticking it to my friend.

Tom Hickey / Boston

What a shame that hyperbole and flagrant lies are used by people who hate all things moderate and common-sensical. Lately, my e-mail in-box has demanded way too much of my time, as I then do research on and Dyer’s delightful tongue-in-cheek article encouraging Democrats to adopt extreme e-mail strategies has a lot more than a grain of good advice. These e-mails work on a surprising number of seemingly intelligent and well-meaning individuals. By the way, is Dyer really a subversive alien advocating the elimination of free speech? I just got an e-mail about him.

Mary Cooney-Glazer / Marblehead

Write to orThe Boston Globe Magazine/Letters, PO Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819. Letters are subject to editing.

  • August 14, 2011 cover
  • August 14, 2011 cover
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