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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.


Bryan Sisk

Deputy Editor, The Living Hand