Golden, ornate museum clock.

It was noon on Christmas Eve. 

He had asked me to call him as soon as I had the results.


It was Merry frickin’ Christmas Eve.

I didn’t want to do this. Not to him. Not to his family. Not to anyone. Not on Christmas Eve.

But it was cancer. No doubt about it. The five centimeter tumor in his bladder had caused him to pee blood. 

I picked up the phone, hesitated, then put it back down. 


Not today.

I packed the laptop into my bright red leather bag and turned off the lights in the office as I walked out, the last one left in the clinic. My footsteps echoed down the hallway to the alarm code panel. I could feel the cold sneaking in around the glass door and I shivered involuntarily.

I stopped.

Sometimes you have to trust that there is a higher power at work, something beyond you. There was a reason he was supposed to learn about this diagnosis before the holiday. Maybe to help him reconcile with someone? Maybe so he could make this the best Christmas of his life, in case it was his last one?

I don’t get to decide. It is not my place.

He wanted to know.

I walked back to my office, picked up the phone again, and this time I actually dialed his number. 

He answered. 

I told him the news.

“Thank you, Doc.”

“Merry Christmas,” I said.


111 thoughts on “Timeless

  1. Definitely the right thing to do. As the messenger you don’t have (or shouldn’t have) a choice.He would not want to abdicate his knowledge or treatment solely to others. That deprives him of his choice and dignity. Both of which he will need in spades for the upcoming battle – win or lose.And that choice is timeless by grace and we should honor it. Well done.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes, you did the right thing, but what a terrible choice to have to make. As someone already said, it’s an extremely impressive writing job that you’ve done with this. I wish I’d been the first to say it, but I suspect at least that I won’t be the last. Fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you did the right thing. I don’t know what I would have done in your shoes. All I can think of is that old MASH episode where the doctors fought to keep a dying soldier alive until December 26 so that his family wouldn’t have to associate Christmas Day with his death for the rest of their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Whew! That’s rough. My best friend is a doc. ER. He had to go to counseling to deal with this very thing. It’s gotta be tough. Being a therapist and watching someone go on Hospice or palliative care, talking to the family, the pt. It sucks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: My Article Read (2-24-2016) – My Daily Musing

  6. What about the good news you get to give? I’m sure you get to do that too! I got some good news from my doctor late at night on the night before Thanksgiving back in 1989. I had a series of miscarriages and none of the doctors had done any kind of tests or digging to try to figure out the reason. Then my then husband’s job changed insurance companies and I got a new doctor, right out of med school. She did some digging. About ten at night on the night before Thanksgiving, I got a phone call. it was my doctor. She apologized for the late call saying she had not realized how late it was because she hadn’t left the office yet. But she wanted to tell me that she thought she had found the reason for my miscarriages…low progesterone. She had a plan, treatment with progesterone before I got pregnant next time. As it turned out, I was already pregnant (8 days late and I just knew) so we started the treatment as soon as the pharmacy could get the suppositories for me. Now, almost 26 years later, I have a beautiful daughter who is named after that doctor!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am the type of person who would not have been able to enjoy my Christmas with that looming over my head. There’s a sense of relief in getting bad news out of the way for some people. He may have been one of them. All you can do, is respect the patient’s wishes.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m so happy with the way this story ended…. I totally get your reservations about it, but had I been the patient, I’d have been on pins and needles all through the holiday until your office opened again, and wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway. I love how you put so much genuine care for your patients in your decisions. You’re definitely my favorite doctor, Doctor, ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Rough choice. My doc told me while I was driving the family to Home Depot, after she’d originally told me ‘No way it’s cancer — we’ll take it right off the table’.

    She asked me if I was sitting down and could handle some news — and I told her to lay it out, because I’d already had a weird suspicion in my gut.

    I had a lot of friends say ‘She told you WHERE? WHEN?’ and act like it was a horrible thing to ‘do’ to me. No — what would’ve been awful is waiting for confirmation. Waiting and waiting and waiting. When *IS* a good time to tell someone it’s cancer?

    When they ask, really. That’s the best you’re going to do.

    Thank you for showing us the humanity in your profession, Victo, and reminding us all about what lies behind the white coat.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s