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A Piece of My Mind
September 20, 2000

Three Lessons

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2000;284(11):1351-1352. doi:10.1001/jama.284.11.1351


I came back to the hospital after office hours just to tell Seana the operative findings.

As her general internist, I knew there was no real need for me to tell her, as she would be just coming out of general anesthesia and was, technically, on the surgery service.

But I felt that I should. This would be her fourth major surgery to try and defeat the inexorably metastasizing colon cancer. Each surgery and course of chemotherapy had bought some time, but this one was being done because she was only 48 years old. The oncology surgeon, a perfectionist, was also a marathon runner, and this surgery came more from that state of mind than from one of genuine hope. This had been one patient for whom we had all been going the extra mile.