Bioethics and Cancer: When the Professional Becomes Personal

Hastings Center Report 41 (6):14-18 (2011)


In 2006, I was diagnosed with cancer. This began a crash course in real-world medical ethics. Having cancer was awful, but it was instructive, too. The experience gave me a new understanding of what my profession is about. Individuals in the bioethics field often address topics related to cancer, such as medical decision-making, the patient-physician relationship, clinical trials, and access to health care. Yet few engaged in this work have lived with cancer themselves. Experience as a cancer patient or family caregiver extends and deepens one’s thinking about serious illness and bioethics. During my time as a cancer patient, I kept in touch with several colleagues immersed in their own cancer ..

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