The government is reported to be undertaking a massive investment in cancer care services with the aim of ensuring the NHS can offer world class care. To everyone who has had cancer, currently has cancer, or will be diagnosed in the future, this is good news. Anything that helps reduce the number of deaths from cancer has to be welcome and nothing that follows wants to take away from that.
Although I do not want to die before “my time’ – what ever that may exactly mean – at some point I will have to die. Medical advances mean we are living longer but the exact quality of those extra years is less certain.
As the years continue to slip by, it is not the quantity of my final days that concerns me but the quality; the where? and how? haunt me far more than the when?
I do not want to die of cancer and am grateful for this new investment but much, much more than that, I want to know that as and when death must be faced, whether that be sooner or later, I will be able to die with dignity.
Governments get votes for helping save lives, but the government that will get my vote is the one that we help ensure that I have a good death. It will be a brave government that will make a fanfare announcement of a major investment in ensuring its citizens will have a good death. However after ensuring our safe arrival in the world, enabling us each to have a good departure seems an equally important priority. Until we can ensure that each of us will die well, extending the number of our days delays the problem but does not solve it.
Ensuring we each have as good a death as possible should be as basic to our NHS as ensuring world class cancer care – it may just win less headlines.