A desperate patient visits a renowned oncologist with hope for a miraculous cure of his kidney cancer. The patient, a venture capitalist, doesn't want to die--can't face his death. He is willing to take whatever risk is necessary to survive. After a grueling course of experimental treatment and an expected period of remission, the cancer returns, leaving the patient (according to the physician-author) with an awful ending to his life--a death filled with regret.

What is revealed as Groopman deliberately walks "along the milestones" of his patient's life is more than the patient's story, however. For in addition to a chronicle of the disease's effect on his patient, the physician himself, and his concerns about the proper use of his knowledge and powerful tools also are revealed.


Groopman very successfully blends clinical information, personal musings and doctor-patient conversation in this case study. It is one of eight case studies of catastrophic illness in his book, The Measure of Our Days: New Beginnings at Life's End.


Dr. Groopman is the Recanati Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The story was published in published in The Measure of Our Days: New Beginnings at Life's End as Kirk. It was the basis for much of the first episode of the television series "Gideon's Crossing," titled "The Gift," in October 2000.

Primary Source

The New Yorker


Condé Nast

Place Published

New York



Page Count