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Retreat from death?


The case of Terry Jenkins, a 15-year-old boy, who was found to have a sarcoma of bone, was discussed on television under the title of 'Inside Medicine'. The discussion revolved, not so much on the clinical details of the case or even of cancer of bone in a young person, as on the emotional disturbance that followed when the boy's mother refused to allow her son to be told about the nature of his illness or the proposed treatment. With hindsight, as is made clear in the discussion, the case should have been handled quite differently, with the general practitioner acting as the lynch pin and a psychiatrist and a social worker being brought into the emotional 'treatment' of the boy and his mother. As it was the boy was so disturbed about what he had guessed about his condition that he attempted suicide: fortunately he was rescued in time, and Terry is now stable, working, and mobile on his artificial leg.

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