I write death sentences. She is a cancer patient. A scarf is… | by P S | Sep, 2021

She is a cancer patient. A scarf is wrapped around her head to hide the loss of hair.

She has undergone surgery and then chemotherapy to remove the malignant cells that had frozen her womb. Her family is complete, so the womb was not needed for childbearing anyway. A minor recurrence caused a repeat surgery and some more chemotherapy.

Today she has come for a follow up ultrasound to confirm if her cancer is still gone. It has been 6 months to the end of chemotherapy. Her family is patently missing in this hospital visit.

She is a little belligerent, angry that her previous small recurrence was missed in a partial ultrasound at this institute.

I check and double check her papers to ensure that I do not miss any of the previous background before starting the scan.

She has gall stones in her gall bladder. A benign and treatable problem to have. I am happy. I have found a potentially solvable unremarkable problem. I check her liver for any metastasis. Nothing shows up. Recheck her liver and spleen. All clean. It is when I am looking at her kidneys that I realise. One of her kidneys is dilated from the back up of urine. The cells freezing her womb have managed to penetrate and block the lower ureter . She may be womb less, but she is not cancer free . I write the report, which feels more like a death sentence than an ultrasound report.

It makes me sad. I have been trained not to take this sadness home with me. Every day comes with a new disease, a new birth AND a new death. I still take these patients home with me every day. Ruminate on what could have been done, what should be done further.

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