'Thank you for Blackstar': Palliative care doctor writes open letter to David Bowie

Subject: 'Thank you for Blackstar': Palliative care doctor writes open letter to David Bowie
Date: 19 Jan 2016

A week has passed since David Bowie's death, and his son Duncan Jones, who was among the first to confirm the news last Monday, has returned to Twitter.

Jones shared a link to an open letter written in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) by a palliative care doctor, which shed light on the musician's preparation for death and thanked him for his contribution to music. It has been reported, although not officially confirmed, that Bowie's "courageous 18-month battle" was with liver cancer.

Mark Taubert, a Palliative Care Consultant at Velindre NHS Trust, Cardiff, wrote that "[Bowie's] story became a way for us to communicate very openly about death, something many doctors and nurses struggle to introduce as a topic of conversation", and he says he discussed a number of difficult subjects with a patient with terminal cancer as a result.

Taubert continued, speaking of Bowie's final single and album: "Thank you for Lazarus and Blackstar. I am a palliative care doctor, and what you have done in the time surrounding your death has had a profound effect on me and many people I work with. Your album is strewn with references, hints and allusions.

"I have often heard how meticulous you were in your life. For me, the fact that your gentle death at home coincided so closely with the release of your album, with its goodbye message, in my mind is unlikely to be coincidence. All of this was carefully planned, to become a work of death art."

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Blackstar, Bowie's producer Tony Visconti said, was planned as Bowie's final album. Visconti wrote on Facebook: "His death was no different from his life - a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be."

Taubert praised Bowie for the supposedly "final pictures" that were taken of him, wearing a suit and smiling. He wrote: "You looked great, as always, and it seemed in direct defiance of all the scary monsters that the last weeks of life can be associated with."

He also explained the details of care Bowie may have enlisted to help with his illness, including the choice to die at home and the fact he probably signed a an order not to be resuscitated. Taubert adds: "I think if you were ever to return (as Lazarus did), you would be a firm advocate for good palliative care training being available everywhere."

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The doctor also took the opportunity to share his appreciation for Bowie's Berlin albums ("For me that time in our history is sound tracked by Heroes"), his 1980s albums and a memory of his friend sneaking into one of Bowie's gigs for free.

Bowie's death has sparked a number of tribute events that have donated profits to cancer charities. Rough Trade, the British record label and chain of music stores, announced that all the profits from sales of Bowie records during January would be donated to Cancer UK. On Friday, nine of Bowie's albums reappeared in the Top 40 album chart alongside Blackstar, which topped the charts.

Original Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/news/thank-you-for-blackstar-palliative...