I met Audrey the first week after I graduated from Medical School. I was now called Doctor, and the title felt shiny like a bright new copper penny, but also heavy and uncertain. She came in through the Emergency Department as white as a ghost and short of breath. Her blood count was very low and she had no white blood cells. A Bone Marrow Test quickly determined that she had AML (Acute Myeloid Leukaemia). Audrey was a slim almost waif like older woman who wore dark red lipstick and an elegant neck scarf, even when she was forced into the thin blue cotton patient gown. When we, “The Team” walked into her room 24 hours later and told her that she had “Leukaemia” she looked at us straight in the eye and stated “I don’t believe in Cancer Cures”. The attending Hematologist was perplexed, and left the room with me remaining present and looking nervously at Audrey. She asked me what I thought. I told her that I thought we could make her better, and if we did nothing she was going to die.
And that was the start of our Patient Doctor Relationship. She decided to stay in hospital and be treated. I was the intern rotating on the Hematology/Oncology service so I saw her every day of that month. The 31 long days from when she started her chemotherapy to the final day that she got to go home. I would pop in to spend some time with her when I was on call in the hospital, and she would always save me some small treat if she was well enough to notice my presence. Many evenings she was not well enough but would look at me and put on a ghost like smile. I sat in her room with my books and studied when she slept.