His parents asked my permission before transferring him to my practice. They knew about Henry. I said I would take him before I thought about it, and then wondered about it. About a week later I was having a rough few days and decided that it was a bad idea....but things improved, and I didn't call them to cancel.
Evan (not his real name) was diagnosed with his cancer about the same time as Henry, at about the same age. He has done well. But that I mean he is currently growing, active, and cancer free.
I think on the wrong day I would have struggled with this visit. It made me miss Henry, but somehow in a pleasant way. I was able to wonder what he would be like at this age. Evan is struggling with some physical symptoms, some post-chemo sequelae..."Small potatoes", as his mother said, but still there nonetheless. He asked my nurse if she was putting in a PICC line when she brought in his shots. There is a lot of "Cancer" still living with that child, even if the cells are all gone.
I dreaded that possibility with Henry. I would trade it in a second to have him back, but I am able to be grateful that I am not Evan's parents, living with the "is-it-back" check up every three months. What a horrible burden to carry.
I shudder to think of the possibility of me needing to break any sort of news about a future recurrence. Some things are best left not worried about, I think this is one of them.
As a primary care doctor, you care about all of your patients, but you really relate to a select few. He and his family will be one of those for me.