among the parents and children, flung together in a hell of prolonged farewell, wandered forever the ministering vampires from laboratory, sucking samples from bones and veins to see how went with each the enemy that had marked them all… They hounded the culprit from organ to organ and joint to joint till nothing remained over which to practice their art: the art of prolonging sickness.
the blood of the lamb
from a book on the death of a child from leukemia. hard stuff. whether or not what we do “works” or whether it’s “worth it” we must remember what it looks like and how it feels to be the patient or the family.
Incredibly important point, about empathy for our patients. My 4-year old son was diagnosed with ALL a little more than a year ago and my empathy exponentially increased, because I had walked in my patient’s shoes of fear. I didn’t request this, but am now a better physician and teacher. My son is also doing very well in his second year of a three year course of chemotherapy.
I would like to point out, additionally, that the cure rate for all childhood leukemia is now 90% and the cure for all childhood cancers is 80%. Those bloodthirsty vampires are now hope-giving angels. A fantastic book on this modern miracle is “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” by Siddartha Mukherjee.
Hi Jay, thanks for your comments
Totally agree that the world has changed for paeds cancer – there’s a great book called the Rise and Fall of modern medicine that tells the paeds chemo story and how it went from 10 to 90% survival. It’s definitely something to be celebrated. i’ve heard about the emperor of all maladies from a few folk now so i really must read it.