Infusion: A public outpatient oncology centre

Adank, Marc
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For many health practitioners death is seen as a failure and dying patients are avoided because they are reminders of that failure. A disconnection in the system in society exists. Patients are not educated to recognize the symptoms they present; first line practitioners are often not able to diagnose and refer patients to specialists who in turn should view the treatment of the cancer patient as holistic and that the support of the family and immediate care givers as paramount. ‘It is the denial of death that is partially responsible for people living empty, purposeless lives; in contrast when you fully understand that each day you awaken could be the last you have, you take the time that day to grow, to become aware of who you really are, to reach out to other human beings’. (Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, 1975). The prevailing uneasiness and denial of death is reflected in medical procedures where quite often modern medical care isolates the patient from the community of loving caring persons. Personal and human needs are abandoned as the patient is isolated on a special wing or floor in a hospital, left alone by doctors and nurses especially when death is evident. Physicians and health care workers are trained to deal with life and not with death. Many physicians are strangers to the issue of death simply because they have been taught to diagnose, treat and cure. ( McKay, 1985). We need to see the individual as a part of a group of interacting, inter-related or inter-dependent elements that form a complex whole. This whole or system is what Lefebvre describes as that space that is directly connected and influenced by the society that inhabits it and conversely it also has an influence on society’s structure.