[Skip to Navigation]
Sign In
Views 646
Citations 0
Cancer Care Chronicles
November 12, 2020

Hope Shattered, Hope Restored

Author Affiliations
  • 1Erick Peter Person Children’s Cancer Center, Essentia Health Duluth Clinic, Duluth, Minnesota
JAMA Oncol. 2021;7(1):29. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.5191

I once received a gift from a patient. It was a square ceramic tile, and in the center a hand-painted shoot rose up, bursting into a euphoria of gold. The background was green fading to gray-blue sky, and carefully painted in the corner was the word Hope. It sat on the bookshelf in my office for years, moving from time to time to accommodate another gift from a patient or a drawing from one of my children.

One morning, in a spirited discussion with a colleague, I threw open my office door too hard. The door struck the bookshelf and, before I could react, the Hope tile fell and shattered on the floor. I stopped mid-sentence and stared. All that it symbolized flooded back to me: the frightened teenaged girl with a new sarcoma who endured surgery, radiation, and cycle after cycle of chemotherapy; the endless complications and relentless pain that took a heavy toll on her mental health; her enrollment in a chronic pain clinic where she remained for the better part of the next decade; the laughter and tears we had shared over the years.

Add or change institution
Limit 200 characters
Limit 25 characters
Conflicts of Interest Disclosure

Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.

Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.

Err on the side of full disclosure.

If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.

Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.

Limit 140 characters
Limit 3600 characters or approximately 600 words