A tough but enlightening—and affecting—look at end-of-life matters. . . .
Lois Hoitenga Roelofs. Marv Taking Charge: A Story of Bold Love and Courage. 224p., $16.99, Deep River Books.
Lois Roelofs always knew that Marv, her husband of fifty-five years, had strong convictions. So when he was diagnosed with “very aggressive” small cell lung cancer, with a few weeks to a few months to live, she accepted that he wanted to die on his own terms―refuse chemo, choose quality of life over quantity, and die at home. She tells their story in a mix of personal notes, family and friend emails, and public blog posts written during Marv’s illness and her first months as a widow. At the time, she could find no personal accounts of refusing treatment and living with the resultant uncertainty.
Lois wrote this book to honor her husband Marv’s request to tell the story of their experience when he chose to refuse treatment for a diagnosis of small cell lung cancer. Family, friends, and readers of Lois’s blog in real time confirmed interest in the topic of refusing treatment. She wanted to show her readers that achieving patient autonomy, doing what’s right for them, is possible and, implicitly, to caution readers never to blindly follow medical advice.
Marv Taking Charge will be helpful to those facing a critical decision whether or not to treat a terminal illness. It will help answer questions such as 1) what can happen after the diagnostic visits, 2) when to sign up for hospice, 3) what can be expected from hospice, 4) how to spend the time during the uncertain period when all persons involved are waiting for the worsening of the patient’s illness, and 5) what can happen during the progression of the illness.
The main theme is patient autonomy, having the right to make decisions regarding care.