A tribute to a palliative patient

By Priya Selvaraj

Laura glanced down at the next patient’s details. There wasn’t much to start with – she had never met this gentleman before, and we were just going to “drop by and check in on him”. We had taken a moment outside his house in the hospital car as she explained to me that the patient we were about to see was currently receiving palliative care for his cholangiocarcinoma. And that’s the extent of what we knew about him. As we stepped out of the car, a pleasantly dressed elderly man opened the door and waved us in. Introductions were made, pleasantries exchanged and we went in.

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To Embrace the Dying Light

By Victor Senthinathan
Honourable Mention, Writing Competition 2017

Prompt 2: Tell us about an encounter with a patient that has significantly shaped your understanding of medical practice or changed your worldview.

I always thought of hospitals as unpleasant places. It was a place where sick and dying people congregated, where white walls stretched out aimlessly and there was the ever-present promise of a registrar quizzing me on something I had just forgotten.

On this day however, my hospital seemed idyllic. It was the type of day where sunlight didn’t just stream into rooms, but cascaded off walls, golden glitter veiling the room. It was the type of day where every ward held smiling patients with easily identifiable differential diagnoses. It was the type of the day where your clinically appropriate shoes can’t help but skip into a room to find a patient for your case report. This is where I met Mary. I would be amiss as a medical student to not mention that the patient has been de-identified to maintain patient confidentiality.

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