You are my favorite patient.
You’re charming and funny.
You proudly tell me you’ve just retired – having built multiple successful businesses from scratch.
You were admitted to my service with rapidly progressive respiratory failure.
Your CT shows cancer everywhere.
You are the same age as my husband.
“I’m not getting that vaccine. It’s my body. I don’t trust Biden. What about the illegals pouring over the border? These mandates are un-American.”
2020 was a good year for your business. You didn’t have to go to any family events you didn’t want to attend. You spent the year at your Summer house.
I tell you that 2020 was death and terror. If you’d been diagnosed with cancer in 2020, no one could have visited you. You would have been here in the hospital alone.
I tell you that the medical profession viewed vaccines as salvation. We still do. I tell you you’re about to become very immunosuppressed. I fear you wouldn’t survive COVID.
“OK, doc, you win. You need to learn the first rule of sales: When you’ve closed the deal, stop talking and get out of there.”
Why do you now trust the medical profession?
Why do we now have credibility?
Why are you now willing to follow our advice … to save your life.
Why not yesterday?
Today, your priorities have changed.
From here on out, you will need medical professionals.
And you will trust us.
In the days and months ahead, you will accept poisons into your body. Poisons, we hope, that will be more deadly to your cancer than to you. We hope they will give you more time. More months with the grandchildren whose photos you share.
I visit you after my string of shifts is up. Give my card with my number, my email address.
“We’ll celebrate at the Capital Grille when this is all over.”
We discuss whether your adult daughters will get vaccinated. “It’s a matter of individual rights.” If they ask again, you’ll tell them to get the vaccine.
“Everyone who has come through that door has been so wonderful. It’s the hospital leadership, you know, not the doctors and nurses, who are getting rich from COVID.”
I won’t challenge you.
A dying man.
You email me right away – joking about the lunch I was hosting for my team. “It probably was vegan (just kidding).”
“Thank you for your kindness.”
It’s never been about us.
It’s always been about you.
The medical profession hasn’t changed.
Our credibility hasn’t changed.
Our commitment to care for you – to adore you, to grieve your diagnosis and what it means for you and your family – hasn’t changed.
Our advice hasn’t changed.
I’m grateful for your trust in me.
I wish it didn’t require a cancer diagnosis to win it.
Cynthia Cooper is a hospitalist.
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