Philadelphia, PA — Amanda Bennett is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Cost of Hope. She’s traveled all over the world, uncovering stories in business and economics. But, the story that she’ll forever be known for is an incredibly personal one. It’s all about the love of her life…
Bennett met the love of her life, Terence Bryan Foley, on a trip to China in the 1980s. She remembers him in the way that only those lucky enough to stay in love would. When he died he was “67 years old, my husband of 20 years, father of our two teenagers, a Chinese historian who earned his Ph.D. in his 60s, a man who played more than 15 musical instruments and spoke six languages, a San Francisco cable car conductor and sports photographer, an expert on dairy cattle and swine nutrition, film noir and Dixieland jazz.”
They followed her job around the world and it seemed like there was nothing they couldn’t do. So, when they learned about the cancer, they were both sure that if they were smart enough and strong enough and brave enough and worked hard enough, they could keep him from dying ever.
And, for years it seemed like they were right. When the surgeon first emerged from surgery, he said, “we got it all.” Then the pathologist found it was an extremely rare form of kidney cancer that had a prognosis of only a few weeks. Yet he lived on. He coached Little League, built a treehouse.
Amanda Bennett with her husband, Terence Bryan Foley, and their children, Georgia and Terry.
Bennett was looking for nothing short of a cure. Searching, hoping for the answer that would save his life.
When the cancer came back, it came with another death sentence. 9 months. There was a terrible treatment that he eventually had to quit. But he lived. They traveled with their children to Italy, to Australia.
When the cancer began to grow again, there were new, experimental treatments that attacked it in new ways. He entered a clinical trial that began to shrink the cancer. But, then, on another dark night, a 20-something resident who she’d never met before told Bennett her husband would die, possibly that night. What did she want to do? She said keep him alive if you can; the treatment was working.
After an incredibly expensive and painful medical hail mary, he died six days later.
Hope drove a seven-year fight and some of the best years of their lives.
But when it became denial in the final moments, it cost them so much. Bennett counts the two costs this way:
Overwhelming costs at the end of life:
“The only thing I know for certain that money bought was confirmation that he was dying.”
Read more about the economics from Bloomberg.
The missed goodbye
They pushed the fight right over the edge and she never got to say what she says almost every day now: “hey, buddy, it was a hell of a ride.” They never thought it was the end. Hope drove their fight and stole their goodbye.
Bennett talks today about the power of denial and how it drives irrational decisions throughout healthcare. Irrational decisions to both fight (and win) and not give up (and lose). It’s at once the greatest feature of humans and the toughest challenge to the system.
Posted by: Leigh Householder