When Christine Reilly’s little boy was being treated for cancer, she told his doctor she could handle almost anything.
“The only thing I will not be able to tolerate is him looking at me and saying, ‘Mommy, it hurts,’ ” she said in a story by Elizabeth Cooney, a Boston Globe correspondent.
Michael died when he was 5 years old of alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, which was diagnosed when he was 9 months old. His pain was well controlled, especially at the end of his life.
But Reilly, who lives near Boston, said she can understand why a parent would contemplate ending their dying child’s life sooner if that would ease the child’s unrelieved suffering.
A small study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reports that more than one out of eight parents surveyed considered hastening the death of a child with terminal cancer, with their child’s suffering increasing the likelihood of such thoughts.
Five parents in the study said they actually asked a caregiver to speed up their child’s death.