Perhaps all those scientific advancements have given us more than the panoply of treatments and longer life expectancies; they have created an impetus to reappraise how we live. By accepting the reality of dying rather than the misconception, we paradoxically give ourselves the luxury of time. The process of dying can be cast as full of potential rather than as devoid of any final opportunities. There is a chance for real interpersonal reconciliation and emotional expression rather than the hasty symbolic gesture of aggressive treatment.Pauline W. Chen, Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007), ch. 7
It is this opportunity, then, and not necessarily the hope of cure, that is the final gift of the medical revolution of the last century.