A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne
K. Young, Associate Editor.
Early this April morning, gray light seeps into my kitchen as I gaze
out the window while sipping coffee, slowly awakening to melancholy, recalling
how several years ago my sister died.
Beth was in her mid-20s when she fainted onto another kitchen floor,
in the house of my mother and father, a continent away from me now; her profound
anemia and petechiae suggested the acute myeloid leukemia that the bone marrow
biopsy confirmed the next day. Not uncommon among persons with Down syndrome,
Beth's leukemia responded to aggressive chemotherapy dosed over the ensuing
four months with complete remission. Within the year, though, the disease
relapsed, and ten months further on—an interval extended by still more
chemotherapy—Beth died late on this day while I sat at her bedside,
my one hand pushing the button that delivered small doses of morphine to her
body, the other stroking her forehead in small circles.
Feudtner C. Dare We Go Gently. JAMA. 2000;284(13):1621-1622. doi:10.1001/jama.284.13.1621