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Everyone knows the old English proverb, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. The lesson it offers is that we are wise to carefully consider the risk involved when attempting to get more of something, and sometimes it is best to be satisfied with what we already have.

This proverb can be helpful when we are considering treatment options for a terminal health condition. A good example are the treatment choices for many cancers. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery can all have unwanted side effects, and certainly have the potential to affect the quality of life. In fact, these medical decisions can often come with dire consequences, and may even be the eventual cause of death.

Here in the United States, medical care can sometimes be practiced with a “Cookie Cutter “ approach. A particular medical condition gets a treatment plan based on the defined standards of care for that diagnosis. While this is the best the medical field can offer, using the Western medical model, there is no ‘money back guarantee’ offered for the outcome. If the patient has a ninety percent chance of survival if they accept treatment, how are they to know if they are in the ninety percent, or ten percent of those who will be treated? There are also many other factors for consideration, such as the patient’s general health condition, age and lifestyle. We humans are not all the same!

This is why–many times, when we look back on the circumstances of a person who was medically treated for a terminal illness, we are not sure that the treatment did indeed extend life. Sometimes we wonder if it only extended death, accompanied by pain and suffering.

The truth is, that at any given moment, our life experience is based on what we choose to be aware of. If our awareness is on prolonging our life at any cost, under any circumstances, then what are we choosing not to be aware of? Are we giving up the bird in the hand? This is why–for some people–they choose to focus on love given and received. At their end of life, they will focus on enjoying the company of those they love, and take opportunities for joy, laughter, and conversations, with big helpings of hugs and kisses. A beautiful bird indeed!




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