Accepting the End: On Cancer Narratives and Our Cultural Inability to Come to Terms with Death Public Deposited

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  • February 26, 2019
  • Osteen, Anne Bennett
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • In Being Mortal, Atul Gawande argues that medicine falls short of meeting the needs of the dying. He writes from the vantage point of a Harvard-educated surgeon and professor, and admits, “I am in a profession that has succeeded because of its ability to fix. If your problem is fixable, we know just what to do. But if it’s not? The fact that we have no adequate answers to this question is troubling and has caused callousness, inhumanity, and extraordinary suffering”. Despite the inexorability of death, we fumble around the topic. We cannot evade death; it is the endpoint of human existence. Our difficulty talking about death precludes us from having crucial conversations about what we will need emotionally, relationally, and medically when that time comes. These conversations, as difficult as they might be, ultimately would provide a deeper understanding of patient priorities—and thus bring us one step closer to honoring them.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Funding: None
  • Taylor, Matthew
  • Bachelor of Arts
Academic concentration
  • English
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2017
  • English

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