"I just want to know that she'll be able to travel," my patient's husband said.
Stan and Jane Jackson* sat side-by-side on the mauve loveseat in the exam room. A binder filled with sheaths of paper—copies of Jane's lab reports, CT scan reports, discharge papers, and chemotherapy information handouts—sat open on his lap. On top of the binder rested a notebook-sized calendar, open to the current month. From my perch on the rolling stool across from them, I could see that almost all of the calendar's boxes were filled with scribbles of black and blue ink representing appointments and obligations.
Jane had been my patient since her diagnosis. She was referred to me right after her initial cancer surgery, the one that yielded her diagnosis and stage and offered her the best chance of cure. She received adjuvant chemotherapy, and she tolerated it better than either of us expected. A few months after she completed therapy, her energy had returned almost to normal, and she was able to enjoy—and keep up with—her young grandchildren. Within the next month, however, her cancer returned.