As if that weren’t enough, two years prior his cancer had metastasized to his lungs. Now he lay before me unable to see, taste, smell or feel and only barely able to hear as he drowned incrementally in his own fluids. He was by far the most pitiful human being I had ever imagined.

In pathetic gasps, he told me the details of his medical odyssey. I got to his social history, and he reported two packs of cigarettes a day, daily alcohol consumption and heavy drug use for 35 years. As he clearly did not drink, smoke or do drugs now, I innocently inquired as to when he had stopped those things.

Without hesitation, he gave me a specific date. I asked him what was significant about that day, and he replied, “That’s when I gave my heart to Jesus.”

This opened the floodgates, and he enthusiastically explained the details of his spiritual transformation. He called himself a messianic Jew, claiming Jesus had forever changed his life.

As I listened enraptured, he told me not to feel sorry for him. He said he hated being sick, but because of his illness, he had been able to lead his daughter and one of his chemotherapy nurses to Jesus. He said he could clearly see God’s will in his illness. The strength and confidence he exuded were superhuman.

By the time I finished the interview, we were both exhausted. I checked his medication orders a final time and put him to bed.