Editor's Commentary on “When Ella grows up…”
January 04, 2014
“She laid there in the hospital bed, her hazel eyes closed and her skin paler than the white sheet draping her body.” This line opens a work of prose by Mala Talekar in which she reflects on her role as a fellow in pediatric hematology and oncology. Each line carefully expresses the emotional struggle of her daily life as physician for kids with cancer. She shoulders the burden of diagnosis: “Ella has leukemia”. She takes on the role of healer, even at the expense of inducing some harms: “I left her side to arrange for painful procedures and to write chemotherapy orders, feeling confident that infusing dangerous drugs into the delicate veins of this little four-year old was going to make her all better.” She bears the constant concerns that her own children are not immune against bad diagnoses: How do I tell him that I am scared too, that I have the same fears each and every day. Even when I am not sitting in front of a family, crushing their dreams.” Fortunately for us, she takes on the role of storyteller and allows us a glimpse into her challenging yet rewarding world.
Deputy Editor, The Living Hand