The Art of Caring
Benjamin W. Frush, MD MA
“Well Ben…I think I’ve come…to the end,” Sharon whispered as she looked up at me with soft but weathered brown eyes. Though her breathing was labored and her cadence fragmented, a deep peace nevertheless seemed to emanate from Sharon as she assessed her state. Flanked by her two children, mother, and sisters, as well as several pink balloons and various cards inscribed with some inspirational message or spiritual aphorism, it struck me how comfortable Sharon seemed with the imminence of her death compared to the anxiety I felt welling in the pit of my own stomach.
I got to know Sharon a few years back when I was a college student and a counselor at a camp for children of parents who had experienced cancer, where her daughter and son were campers. At that point, Sharon had been deemed cancer-free for 5 years after an initial diagnosis of breast cancer, for which she underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy treatment. Sharon was a delight to be around; her positive energy and sage wisdom—which she attributed to her illness experience—were hard-earned gifts that she shared with others earnestly and joyfully. She and I kept in touch over the intervening years as we saw one another at camp board meetings and reunions.