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.
Rayson D. Lisa's Stories. JAMA. 1999;282(17):1605–1606. doi:10.1001/jama.282.17.1605
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