What a just plain awful day. After an early-morning call from the nursing home about an elderly lifelong smoker who was sick again with pneumonia, I reached the office and found the death certificate for a patient who had just died of a stroke despite perfectly anticoagulated atrial fibrillation. Over the course of the day, I had to tell one man he had pancreatic cancer, another he had lung cancer and a woman that her colposcopy showed cervical cancer. The day ended as I battled with an insurer whose paperwork errors had interminably delayed a patient’s medical coverage.

Driving home after fighting an uphill battle against chaos, sickness and death, I pondered what we can do when the usual “doctoring” doesn’t work. I was reminded of the aphorism “To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always,” which originated in the 1800s with Dr. Edward Trudeau, founder of a tuberculosis sanatorium.

For centuries, it really was only “sometimes” that physicians cured disease and just a bit more often that they relieved suffering, but they still had a role in comforting. Today, we think of medicine primarily in terms of the interventions we can perform. “To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always” is a reminder that our role as comforter must provide the basis for our care regardless of whether we can relieve suffering or cure disease.

- William E. Cayley Jr., MD, MDiv, UW Health Augusta Family Medicine Clinic, Augusta, WI


Bittersweet Season  



Advance Care Planning Initiatives

Communication Skills Training for Doctors and Other Medical Professionals

End-of-Life Care Blogs


Public Education Initiatives

Web-Based Advance Directives

End-of-Life Communication and Preparation

Hospice and Palliative Care


Tools for Starting the Conversation

​Film and Television




Steve Price is a singer/songwriter/nurse from California whom we "randomly" met while conducting our person on the street interviews in New York City in April 2010.  Please click on his picture to learn more about this incredible man's musical contribution to end-of-life care in America.  His song "Farewell" is featured in the opening segment of Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject.