Saturday, May 30, 2009


Yesterday I saw one of my pediatric patients, who was close to Henry's age at diagnosis.

He's had rough month illness-wise, and enough unusual symptoms that my doctor-skin-on-the-back-of-my-neck is prickled. Just enough to start wondering if he has cancer.

I think about cancer all the time in my patients, but it doesn't come up often in my pediatric group. Any good doctor should. Sometimes I mention it, sometimes I don't, depending on how much I'm worried, or how much I perceive my patient to be worried. I remember one older boy, just as Henry finished treatment. He wasn't my patient, I just happened to get involved in his care one day due to his regular physician being out. And I very quickly extracted myself from the situation. I found myself nauseated every time I saw his chart. He turned out to be fine.

This little boy is mine, though, and I know his mom well. I didn't mention the "C" word yesterday; I couldn't tell if it was on her mind, but she is a bright woman so it probably was.

In an eerie coincidence, she had just shaved his head. He so reminded me of all the little children just regrowing their hair. It certainly contributed to my unease.

I had flash memories of Hopkins the rest of the day.


Jen said...

My thoughts will be with your patient, his family, and you.

THAT GIRL said...

Reminds me of when my nephew was so ill at 3 y/o. He had been vomiting et losing wt for weeks and weeks and the peds couldn't find anything... I felt so guilty for letting my mind "go there." Like maybe I wasn't having enough faith.

He ended up with ADEM... which was treatable but, only found as he was at the brink of death.

As a physician, this will probably be your first of many kids who will cause your thoughts to "go there."

As a mother... I admire your compassion and empathy.

Sybil said...

OH my dear Dr.Smak, these things are sure to keep popping up, and I am sure for a very long time if not forever that CANCER word will come into your mind especially where children are concerned.
Take care
God Bless,
Love Sybil xx

rlbates said...

There are bound to be those tough ones that "take you there" I'm betting you find a way to use them to be an even better doctor. :)

radioactive girl said...

I am thinking good thoughts for you.

I notice things in other people now that I have been through my health issues and it's hard to distance myself from the feelings that come back when reminded so closely. I can't imagine, and I send you thoughts of strength to face this when it comes up and you need to be reminded so closely.