Wednesday, April 20, 2011


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.


SOCKS said...

Sensitive, healing, with your usual grace. I admire you.

A Doc 2 Be said...

Bless you, Dr. Smak.

For if the day ever comes and they need someone who can guide them not only medically, but as a parent, you will be their guiding light of grace.

For that alone, they will be thankful.

Arlene (AJ) said...

Evans family is blessed to have your caring for their son. They knew you would truly understand what they are feeling after all you and your family went through with your precious Henry passing.
May the comfort his family feels in having you care for Evan, also bring comfort to your heart as Henry would have wanted for his Mom.

Anonymous said...

We think of you and the rest of the Smak family often.
I agree that Evan's family is lucky to have you and your care for their son.
take care k3p3

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're still posting! I thought of you yesterday when I read a blog post at science based medicine posing the question of what one would do when his/her child had a brain tumor for which the docs could do nothing. Would you try unproved, untested approaches... Anyway, if you care to read it and comment, I would think that your perspective would be priceless. B/t/w, it's not a hypothetical. The father of the child is a personal friend of the blogger. Best, Svetlana