7 Feb 2013


Last month, I opened my drawer to get a certificate for photocopy. Something deep inside caught my eyes. I have forgotten it for a decade.

Then was the time of my basic training. I had just diagnosed liver cancer in an old gentleman and held a family meeting to discuss the condition. Yes, there were various treatment options, but no, the outlook was poor. His age and liver function would preclude him from most invasive treatments. The family was most understanding.

A few weeks later, the gentleman called me and asked where I was. When we finally met, he presented me with a flag, the kind you get if you win a race. It was crimson red, almost 3-foot long and bore my name and his praise. I told him I really did not do much. He just told me that if I continued what I was doing, he was sure I would do great things.

I have to confess that I did not put up the flag in the ward. It just did not seem right to take credit for what was supposed to be teamwork. At the same time, I also feared that the gentleman would find out and I might hurt his feelings. In any case, the flag ended up in my drawer and I soon forgot the whole thing.

When I looked at the flag again after all these years, I could no longer remember what the gentleman looked like. What I could vividly remember, however, were his earnest eyes, full of expectation, almost flashing with excitement. I may have forgotten the flag, but the blessings from my patients were always in me. I wish he is proud.

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