View Full Version : The Story Behind Kennedy’s Surgery

08-01-2008, 04:02 PM

Dr. Mitchel S. Berger, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the University of California, San Francisco, flew to Boston to participate in Mr. Kennedy’s meeting and care. He spoke only about his experience in other cases, including the recent one of a woman who at 80 is four years older than Mr. Kennedy. She has a glioblastoma that Dr. Berger judged likely to cause her death in about two months.

If he could remove all visible brain cancer, the operation, combined with chemotherapy and radiation, could provide 3 to 15 months of good-quality life with her family, Dr. Berger said. He added: “While that may not be a huge amount of time — one-eightieth of her lifetime — it is a lot of time to say and do many things. When people look at it in that context, it becomes a big and significant piece of time.”

The reality is that two people who listen to a doctor spell out the risk-benefit profile can come to different decisions. One may say surgery is not worth the risk, while the other says, “That is one way I want to say goodbye.”