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The Kid with the Scar on his Head

Pemmaraju, Naveen MD

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000352166.18616.c7

On the fourth day of my oncology fellowship

I left the hospital barely able to breathe

Somberly exiting the main hospital building

Clutching my wounded aching heart

Weeping bitter hot tears

Because of what I had just seen

It wasn't the threads of time that had inflicted this pain

It wasn't the misdeeds of life's bad choices

It was the essential brutality of it that strangled my emotions

And rendered me into depravation for this poor child

At that moment, I hurriedly painted his life's story with the brush of my mind

At that first impeccable glance of his withered body

Decimated not by the brain cancer itself

But his insides eaten out and body ravaged by the treatments

Multiple modalities of bombardment making war on his body's cells

Both healthy and cancerous

First it was the surgery that wiped him out

Then came the chemotherapy which augmented his weakness

Finally the radiation, to zap what was left of the tumor

More chemo, more treatments

More, more, more, more

So much demanded of his little body day after day

Until he could give no more

I walked by the child that day, who accompanied by his mother,

Was found to be fragile and wheelchair bound

But what I saw surprised me

It caused a brief but real paradigm shift

I saw him take off his baseball cap to show his father his new scar

And after the child's father tenderly kissed the wounded flesh

For a fleeting moment, I saw the child smile

I stole a glimpse of the most tender of moments with this child and his father

A tiny but prodigious moment

Between parent and child

Enjoyed in the midst of an otherwise harrowing and arduous life

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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