An intern is on duty in a cancer ward. He especially deals with leukemia. He tells one of his patients that he understands how she feels as she cries, facing death. She turns on him, telling him that he can't possibly understand. A short time later, the intern grows weak and ill. He is diagnosed as having leukemia. He spends months in the hospital, feeling helpless as his old classmates treat him. He makes them promise to let him die peacefully when his time comes. He dies when an intern accidentally pierces his spleen while trying to tap his lung.


The story forces one to reconsider easy versions of empathy. The intern learns truly how it feels to be his patients. He ruminates about the best ways to comfort patients as well as the dangers of getting too involved with terminal patients.

Primary Source

Doctors and Other Casualties



Place Published

New York



Page Count