Modern medicine is unfortunately rather corporate and impersonal. A lot of this has to do with our nation's unwillingness to take health care seriously, leaving it as a patchwork quilt of profit-driven HMOs and haphazard public-sector programs. It's regrettable and not likely to be fixed any time soon.
There's another aspect, though, thrown into high relief by paranoid outcries like a letter in today's San Francisco Chronicle. When the newspaper ran a human-interest story about a poodle who spends time cheering up young patients at UCSF's Children's Hospital, one reader's reaction was to issue a denunciation. Apparently science and medicine are evil. Or cruel. Something like that.
Spare us cutesy stuffI have no reason to question Ms. Kennedy's sincerity, which rings out from her hand-wringing prose, but what would she prefer to see? Should the young cancer patients be sipping herbal tea instead while sniffing aromatherapy candles and listening to Enya? That would be the very picture of tranquility.
Editor — I cannot get your May 19 story about Izzy the poodle at UCSF out of my mind.
Could The Chronicle editors please spare its readers this sort of cutesy, upbeat reporting, where a happy face is painted on a tragedy?
The idea that a dog “brings joy to patients” is negated by the reality of the heart-rending accompanying photos of suffering children held hostage to illness, science and the medical-pharmaceutical industry.
Jane Q. Kennedy
Of course, they'd die.
The sad truth is that many of these kids will die anyway. Leukemia killed two of my cousins, despite the best that modern medicine could do at the time. One of them went very quickly. The other gained an additional ten years of life before a recurrence took her away from us. Both had difficult times during treatment and chemotherapy. I wish they could have been spared that suffering. Ms. Kennedy appears to believe that the suffering of juvenile patients is a pointless tragedy, motivated perhaps by the cupidity of “science and the medical-pharmaceutical industry.” What a nasty world she lives in. I suppose the doctors are in on the money-making conspiracy. Perhaps they giggle in the break room at the naïveté of their trusting patients and wink at each other. How clever of Ms. Kennedy to call them out.
Without claiming that science is always perfect or that the pharmaceutical industry always chooses people over profit, I will say that people like Ms. Kennedy are part of the problem. Her letter is a simple-minded bleat of anguish that offers nothing to anyone. I hope it at least made her feel good.