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A Piece of My Mind
June 18, 2008

Wanting

Author Affiliations
 

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2008;299(23):2722. doi:10.1001/jama.299.23.2722

The want to be well permeates a person's life when the first sign of disease knocks on the door of invincibility. I know this not because I am a physician, but because I accompanied a loved one on a far-too-short journey through the horror and poverty of disease. I saw her fear, her suffering, and her eyes filled with the fading of light—she wanted nothing more than the normalcy of good health.

Pamela was 51 years old, an accountant, and the mother of our two daughters. She was a nonsmoker and an exerciser, with a fairly benign medical history except for an aunt with multiple sclerosis and a cousin with Crohn disease. She was a stickler for details, a characteristic that can indubitably worsen the apprehension surrounding the significance of symptoms, as I’m sure it did with her. And although Pamela was blessed with a supportive family, disease and death are lonely companions that humble our arrogance and introduce us to the numbing realities of humility and mortality. Her verbal journal is unsettling and tells such a tale.

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