On Talking with a Patient

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“They expect us for dinner at 7:30,” my wife had said. The chair beside the bed was too low. I looked up into his 70-year-old eyes, turned aside lest they see me as I brought the unwanted news; across at the large-fingered calloused hands, holding each other for lack of a tool. A lytic lesion in L3 had brought pain, discovery of a mass in the upper left lung, and now an end to 40 years of smoking. What else could my news be but bad, hurriedly delivered on Friday evening, the “reason why you are feeling the pain and

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