Sunday, January 22, 2006

Redundant Malignancies

Tomorrow I have to face informing a client that his cancer has returned. I became privy to this information late on Friday afternoon, the primary doctor calling me on my cell-phone to give the results of the biopsy. I played phone-tag with the surgeon, who confirmed in a message that the bad news was indeed true. I know I'm the best person to do the telling, but it's a wrenching task about which I'm cringing tonight. Being the bearer of troubling news is never a comfortable role to play.

Meanwhile, another patient of whom I am exceedingly fond faces a rough road as his cancer resurfaces. A new round of chemo is upon us, and my energy is spent in coordinating care, alleviating symptoms, and giving support in whatever way is best.

The last time I faced several surges of patients' recalcitrant malignancies, two deaths followed quite swiftly. Am I facing yet another round of deaths around some not-too-distant corner? Perhaps. It's par for my course, and it's a course I choose to run.
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