Cancer and Peter Jennings: Controlling the Uncontrollable? (2)
I watched the Charlie Rose program on PBS, where a close friend of Peter Jennings and the family was interviewed. He had visited Peter during the last months of his illness. It appears that Peter and the family knew at the outset of the high probability of a losing outcome. However, Peter requested chemotherapy and radiation with the intent of living despite the toxicity and the odds. This decision was probably the last significant act to maintain control over his life. The friend said that it was the tremendous support of Peter’s wife and family, even including his ex-wife that made his final days acceptable.
I am trying to contrast Peter Jennings action with Bob Stern’s response to illness. Both men were said to demonstrate need for personal control in their lives. Peter chose, in the end, to do whatever was necessary to live. Bob chose suicide. Of course, Bob was 10 years or so older but had a less defined immediacy of death from illness than Peter. Why didn’t Bob choose to do the most to preserve and continue his life? I suspect that the difference compared with Peter was that depression was a factor in Bob’s decision. If so, as I previously suggested, Bob’s decision for suicide was probably not strictly “rational”.
Perhaps I am attempting too much analyzing of the final actions before death of these two men said to show their need for personal control in managing their jobs and possibly their whole lives. But I have an interest in wondering about why people do what they do. ..Maurice.