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A Piece of My Mind
November 3, 1999

Lisa's Stories

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;282(17):1605-1606. doi:10.1001/jama.282.17.1605

I was in the first year of a hematology/oncology fellowship when I met her. I knew she was 26 years old and that she lived in Madison, Wisconsin. That she had an aggressive adenocarcinoma of undetermined origin that had ravaged the left side of her pelvis, caused cutaneous nodules to appear over her abdomen, and sprayed her lungs like buckshot. That she had received radiation therapy to her pelvis as well as two different chemotherapeutic combinations. That her response to therapy had been disease stability that probably wouldn't hold up to close scrutiny. That she had no family history of malignancy and that she had never smoked cigarettes. That her chest film did not show any significant change since her last treatment one month ago. That she was anemic. That she was on oxygen at 2 liters per minute continuously and that she took long-acting morphine, 60 mg, three times a day. That she had two children, a boy and a girl, aged 2 and 4.

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