When I was in art college, I was a poor “starving artist.” During this time, I became very ill and had difficulty walking. In particular, symptoms related to one of my lungs and my breathing were very disturbing.
I tried to conceal the difficulty so that no one would know just how sick I was. But my mother, a good and compassionate medical nurse, wasn’t fooled when I visited her, and she insisted that I go to the hospital immediately. Two physicians examined me there and told me that I had a collapsed lung, extreme malnutrition, and a maximum of six months to live.
They said that they did not know how to cure me, nor did they know of anyone else in the world who would know what to do. But they offered to operate on the lung for free, because they hoped to make some progress toward learning more about this condition and perhaps how to fix it in future patients. They explained that I would not survive the operation, but that I would be making a contribution toward finding a medical cure. I declined their offer, explaining that I wanted to live out my days. Then I went out and made my funeral arrangements.