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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - February 7, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 36 - THE IETHBRIDGE HERALD - Wednesday, February 7, T973 "Mini Miss United Kingdom 1973" is a pretty big title for such a little girl, and right off the bat 5-year-old Elizabeth Seal has trouble with her tiara in London. A British infant firm sponsored the event. Giielmess of dying By BETTY JAMES Washington Star-News WILMINGTON, Del. - "I'm not a proponent of prolonged dying," Mr. Brown, a terminal cancer patient, said. The victim of an illness that led to stays in three hospitals and who, as it turned out, was six days from death, reflected, "not to prolong the dying maybe would have been a better thing." "It's a funny thing what it does to you psychologically," he said of his illness. "I always tried to be a good person. When this happened it seemed like it washed it all away. I didn't have any faith." His voice was lost for a moment in tears. Then he rallied and said, '"But it's just one of those things." Brown's interview, tape-recorded with his permission, was a landmark in a remarkable program at Wilmington Medical Centre designed to improve the quality of death. He was the first patient invited to join in the staff discussions that are a regular 6emdweekly feature of the program. Patients take part routinely now. Launched two - and - a - half years ago in the Oncology unit by the Rev. Lynwood L. Swan-son, the program involves doctors, nurses and all who come in contact with the patients and their families. It is an organized hospital effort to redress the sterile loneliness that is the experience of so many who are dying today. Swanson, 32, an ordained baptist minister, functions in a non-denominational capacity and is the first full-time, salaried chaplain and director of the department of pastoral care at the medical centre. "We are trying to care for dying patients while they live," Swanson explained. "We are trying to help people live while they die. By taking our cues from the patient, we hope to share his last days of life in a meaningful way." Brown, not his real name, encouraged to talk about himself and his interests, emerges on tape as a likable person, not a case. He recalled career that made Mm a millionaire - "that may sound like bragging" - and his resentment at leaving the office for treatment sessions he was convinced weren't doing any good. Mostly, he said, during the day he went back in his mind over this career. He recalled his hobby of giving par-tier, for children and their families, too. "The pleasure you get out of it is the fun other people had," he said. Brown, 67, recalled how his doctor gave Ms wife "the bad news right away" after an operation revealed the seriousness of his condition but had waited five days to tell Mm. "Really, the doctor ought to tell you," he said. "My doctor . said, 'We had to tell you these lies, you'd been through such a traumatic experience (the operation).' He meant it would have finished me there and .then on the spot." Brown talked about his relationship with his wife and son - "There's no holdback between us." He said he would have welcomed euthanasia. "I thought maybe they would give you one big jab and that would be the end." He hoped to die before the new year because the amount of his insurance policy dropped every year. And he hoped he wouldn't have too much pain "before the thing ends." Swanson said, "TMs man was really interested in living. We see the patients as sickly. But they're depressed because they don't have anybody to be human, with. "Patients are constantly thinking and dreaming and reflecting. I try to help them find the eternal dimension of their life, what's going to live on." A few hours before Brown died he asked a practical nurse to pray for him, Swanson related. "She said, 'You can pray yourself and I'll pray with you' and they did." Brown would not have reached out for her help without the program, Swanson believes. And without the insight the program bad given her, the practical nurse would have assured him he was getting better, rather than sharing reality, Swanson said. Dr. Robert Meckelnburg, attending cluef of the department of medicine at the centre, said the great majority of the patients are quite aware that they have cancer when they come to the uMt. This doesn't mean that information is pushed on a patient who doesn't ask for it specifically. The effort to improve the quality of death - relieves the patient's and the family's emotional tension, Meckelnburg said. The patient's hostility in the course of accepting the disease is one emotional problem but the biggest problem is depression, a condition relieved, by llistening to what the patient has to say, he said. If the case is truly hopeless -and Meckelnburg says that a few types of cancer can be cured and that patients can live for years with others -- he tells the family he wants to let nature take its course should, for example, the patient develop pneumonia. Most families accept this. "We get 'Look, do everything' in the beginning from the families," he said. But after a patient's lengthy illness the families themselves are exhausted. Meckelnburg wants the family there when the patient is dying if the family wants to be there, but seme can't handle the experience, he said. Mrs. Joan Haldeman, a nurse on the 3 to 11 p.m. shift, asks relatives who don't know whether to stay or go in the final hours, "If you were dying would you want to be alone?" their response is always no, she said. If patients cry, or say, "I'm afraid," they are met with understanding by the staff. Sometimes Mrs. Haldeman sits on the bed to talk - against hospital regulations. If she can't help cure, she can comfort. The nurses have had the experience of some patients asking for medication to help them die. Meckelnburg, on the other hand, a cancer specialist with J] years experience, said less than one per cent have asked him to actively help them die. HAL BOYLE NEW YORK (AP) - Things a columnist might never know if he didn't open his mail: You may not be the man you used to be, but few things depreciate quicker than a new car. It drops about 51,226 in value the first year, about $735 a year over a five-year-period. Incidentally, if you are an average owner, do you know what your car costs? If it. is a standard car, it. costs $(i.:!7 a day to operate. The average fev compact models is ?4.44, that of subcompacLs 53.09. Earth isn't in style with the times. It isr.'t getting thinner', it is getting fatter. Its weight is increased by the addition of plant life, which turns the energy from sunlight into matter, and by the fall of some 730.000 tons of cosmic dust each year as we wheel through space. But the amount is so compara- tively small that even the man in the moon probably wouldn't be aware of any change in the earth's silhouette through the centuries. Quotable notables: "For good or ill, your conversation is your advertisement. Every time you open your mouth you let men look into your mind," Bruce Barton. Smile, kid, smile; A Swiss psychiatrist says that children are very vulnerable to depression during the first year of life. The recommended treatment is to give them more attention. But this must be done as early as possible - else you may be helping to create a child who may grow up to bo a sour and melancholy dyspeptic, one that will be a pain in the neck to have as a neighbor. A fine crop: Just as now and then a vineyard produces a truly great wine, so do some years occur on earth when the world produces a breed of vintage men. Such a year was 1809. Among the notable men born then were William Gladstone, Alfred Tennyson, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Felix Mendelsohn, the composer. SIMPSONS l)C3XS c-With crossover tie top. White or green. Set 26,00 d-With striped interest. Lemon, powder blue, pink. Set 26.00 e-With strawberry embroidery. While, lemon, navy. Set 26.00 Ladies' Dresses NEW STORE HOURS; Open Daily 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday 9:30 a.m. fo 9:00 p.m. Centre Village Mall, Telephone 328-9231 ;