Leukemia in the Family

Medical Author: Frederick Hecht, MD, FAAP
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

(This Doctor's View was written by one of's Medical Editors, who is a grandfather, father, and doctor.)

Nightmarish News

Sometimes, I write poems when I have something on my mind that I find hard to put in words, but which somehow needs, I think, to be recorded in black and white. So, on February 18th I wrote this short poem. It is not a great poem. It may not even be a halfway decent poem. I don't know. I just needed to write it. Here it is:

Tania, our lives will not be
the same again since
you were found not to be
a healthy high school kid
but to have leukemia.

I still am too shaken
to write much about it
but you are strong
and we will be, too.

Tania is our granddaughter. She is our firstborn grandchild.

Her dad, my son Rick, had called me. He had cried on the phone and told me what was happening. To let my wife know the gist of the conversation, I wrote on a pad of paper: "Tania is very sick." I underlined "very."

Rick, who is a physician, said he had been working at home when Tania told him she had a funny rash and asked if he would look at it. Rick looked. He saw there were petechiae (tiny red spots due to bleeding into the skin). Tania had complained of feeling tired for several weeks, but what high schooler hasn't? She also had somehow picked up some bruises. He immediately called Tania's pediatrician, who saw Tania during her lunch hour.

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