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Eyewitness in Erewhon academic hospital
  1. I de Beaufort,
  2. F Meulenberg
  1. Erasmus MC/University Medical Center, Department of Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Medicine, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Inez de Beaufort, Professor of Health Care Ethics, Erasmus MC/University Medical Center, Department of Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Medicine, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands; i.debeaufort{at}erasmusmc.nl

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Part 9: Gravity's ethics

This isn't a hospital! It's an insane asylum! And it's your fault! (From M.A.S.H.)

Shaking her head lightly, Doctor Van Tintelen leaves the room and softly closes the door. Empathy streaming through her veins, she never gets used to the unpolished grief of a patient she has to tell of inevitable death, never. She thinks, “There should be pipes to drain the tears in every room, or at least rinsing basins for grief. What a job.” The crying is that of the sisters Barrio. Miranda and Monica are twins who always refer to themselves as M&M. Though Monica cries the hardest, it is Miranda who was just told that her breast cancer has spread into her liver. No more treatment available.

“Don't cry, Monica, I took the risk purposely. We both knew breast cancer runs in our family. You had the test, I didn't.”

“And now you see the result, Miranda, you are going to die. We aren't even fifty yet. Damn.” The irony is that the clock in the room doesn't work, its pointers silent and stiff.

“Do you really think you are better off? I've never completely understood why you had the preventive double mastectomy.”

“I have never felt less of a woman. You know that.”

I know, but some men felt differently about it.”

The remark hurts Monica almost physically, and Miranda apologises immediately. “Sorry, sweetheart, I shouldn't have said that. The sisters embrace for the hundredth time.

“Maybe I was too much of a coward,” Miranda says, resigned, “or too proud of my breasts.” For a second she lifts the big breasts sadly with her hands. Cynically: “After all, they were my trumps in eroland.”

“A coward? You? How about me?” Monica seems to calm down somewhat. “I was too afraid of the continual fear …

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