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A Piece of My Mind
October 18, 2006

Hope Is the Thing With Feathers

JAMA. 2006;296(15):1815-1816. doi:10.1001/jama.296.15.1815

I discovered the dead cardinal several weeks after Mr Jackson* died of acute leukemia in the medical intensive care unit, his thin frame bloated and bruised and his face distorted by the tape that held the tubes in place. It is my morning routine to inspect my gardens while retrieving the newspaper. Most days—depending on the season—my first thoughts involve plans to plant, weed, or cut back the gardens, unless I am preoccupied with thoughts of overbooked clinics, past-due manuscripts, clinical research protocols, or the difficult conversations necessary to guide patients with leukemia through a disease for which treatment is frequently ineffective.