Walk and talk

6 Feb 2014

Just when I thought there was no more to say, a simple comment to Dad today brought out another level of reflection from us both. Time has given us the space to listen and so nearly three years since Mom died, I feel that I connected with Dad today, about why Mom’s illness took her so quickly, and why the doctors seemed to give up on her.
They didn’t give up on her, of course. They knew that more treatment would be painful, would rob Mom of any quality of life, and would simply prolong her suffering. Her cancer was never treatable. And despite us repeatedly telling Mom and Dad this, Dad clearly never really heard what we were saying. And how could he? His head and heart was full of dread at what was happening to Mom, to him, to them, to us.
My job is to be there when the questions are ready to be asked. Sometimes, a dog walk is best for just coming out and saying what’s on your mind, without interruption or distraction. Keep an ear open for the clues that someone needs to talk. Provide a quiet environment. Listen. Say what’s in your heart.


I am a scientist and a blogger. I have a PhD in the genetics of cardiovascular risk. My Mom died of cancer last year. We learnt a lot and met some amazing people. I want to share with others how to live positively with cancer, and make choices in end-of-life care. My top tip: Ask the difficult questions.

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