As a practicing gynecologic oncologist, I have spoken the words, “I’m sorry, you have cancer,” or some version of that sentence thousands of times. And although my delivery is fairly consistent, modified only slightly to improve understanding, my patients’ responses vary from stunned silence to uncontrollable, overwhelming cataplexy. The stalwart emphatically reply “I’m gonna beat this thing,” but the vast majority tentatively wonder “How long do I have?” and retreat ...

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It should be easy, right? I mean, I am a professional with what feels like eons of training. So how can an oncologist with years of experience fail at perhaps the most important question a patient can ask, ”How long do I have, Doc?” It’s not that I want to avoid the question. Well, okay, sometimes I do. It’s not the most pleasant of conversations to have. But really, I don’t ...

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I believe the role that God plays in our lives is often magnified during times of great suffering. How we perceive that role is a question of faith, often strong and steadfast in some, especially my patients, but sometimes unreliable and inconvenient to others, like myself, on a journey of understanding and acceptance. During the terminal stages of my grandmother’s colon cancer, I recall her saying, “Je pense que le Bon ...

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shutterstock_114468898 “Look at all those beautiful little white flowers,” I said to my wife. “I don’t remember seeing them there before.” In the neglected ten-by-thirty foot corner of our garden, a crop of white flowers began to emerge toward the end of the summer. “You never saw them because they are weeds,” my wife said. “What do you mean … weeds?” I asked. “They are beautiful!” “Weeds ...

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I mustered up the courage to visit Mary today. Pulling into her driveway, I was greeted with the majesty of autumnal brilliance—golds, rusts, and crimsons set against a brilliant azure sky. A bold display of nature’s defiance against the upcoming long winter’s sleep. Not to be ignored, those leaves that had flamed out early chattered against my every step as I slowly ambled toward the doorway. I took a deep breath and ...

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