Thanatology: What to Tell a Child?

The acute leukemia that attacks children is an especially cruel disease, not only because of the helplessness of its victims but because of the problems that it creates for parents, brothers and sisters. Until the 1950s, the average survival time for a child, after the diagnosis of acute leukemia, was well under a year. Now, with half-a-dozen palliative but no curative drugs available, the average survival time is about five years in major medical centers, and a handful of patients have held on for ten years or longer. The harsh fact remains,...

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