[Best American Science and Nature Writing]
By Cynthia A. Campbell
Atul Gawande’s article “No Risky Chances” focuses on the complexities that both physicians and patients face in making decisions about medical treatment that can prolong life and/or cause further complications. Gawande illuminates the implications of one cancer patient’s ordeal with her end-of-life treatment. Ultimately, the article speaks to the importance of understanding/processing issues of mortality.
Gawande’s discussion of courage was enlightening. At one point, Gawande notes that “The first is the courage to confront the reality of mortality—the courage to seek out the truth of what is feared and what is to be hoped when one is seriously ill…the second kind... the courage to act on the truth we find” (66). This point indicates that the certainty of death (our awareness that it is natural and inevitable) can allow us to face it with humility.
After reading Gawande’s article, what was one point concerning the patient’s decisions that caught your attention? Why was that point or scene notable to you? Please provide a page number citation.