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fostering the humanistic practice of medicine publishing personal accounts of illness and healing encouraging health care advocacy

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March 2016

Under the CyberKnife

Judson Scruton

                    Expectant, bound, I wait
for the robotic arm
          to deliver
                              intense radiation
                    to cancerous prostate.

                    The probing eye of the radial arm
searches for my marked gland
          to the soundtrack of my choosing–
                              gentle waves, then pounding surf.
                    Where am I? What am I?

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Shamlian 140713 209 0001


Danielle Shamlian

About the artist: 

Danielle Shamlian is a freelance photographer in eastern Massachusetts, specializing in children and family photography. She received her degree in photography from Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts. In May 2014, she was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. This shock was the beginning of an overwhelming two years. She’s gone through rounds of chemo, radiation, a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, and she continues with different treatments today. When she had to stop using her heavy DSLR camera, she began using her point-and-shoot camera and cell phone to take photos of flowers and nature, which she loves. “Taking pictures lifts my spirits immensely and allows me an escape from the challenges of my treatment.” Further work can be seen at

About the artwork:

“I didn’t stumble upon this flower; it just came to me as part of a beautiful gift bouquet. The roses

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Tough Love

Maria Gervits

I miss Alba. I don’t know why, but I do. She was the most challenging patient I’ve ever had. I dreaded seeing her in the office–and yet, somehow, she won me over.

Alba was fifty-nine, with short, silver hair, a deep, gravelly voice from decades of smoking, and an attitude. She had lung disease, heart disease, depression, arthritis and HIV. She also had a complicated social situation. She’d used cocaine and heroin until her husband had died of HIV. She’d then moved in with her elderly mother and cared for her until her mother died of a stroke. Now Alba lived in a shelter right around the corner from where her father had been shot years before.

The biggest joy in Alba’s life was her granddaughter; but her estranged daughter wasn’t letting Alba see her.

Alba frequently missed appointments or, just as often, walked in without notice, demanding to be seen. She was always in crisis–and she generally took out her frustrations on me.

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Raymond Abbott            

Donald Wyatt. I have written of him before and did not plan to write about him again. Then, just today, something happened.

I was slated to meet him at the usual place. We’ve been having lunch together once a month for more than seven years. Not coincidentally, it’s been exactly that many years since I last worked as a social worker for a local mental-health agency. Donald was one of my clients. When I was about to retire, his mother asked me if I would have coffee or lunch with Donald once in awhile.

“Sure,” I said, never thinking it would go on for so long.

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Muriel Murch

I leave the bed softly
so as not to rouse you
and am in the bathroom before I remember
you are not here.

And yet.

It is the sound of your breathing
sung from memory
by the wind in the eucalyptus grove
that is the lullaby for my dreams.

Waking Read More »

Baring Bones Quaglietti

Baring Bones

Susan Quaglietti

About the artist: 

Susan Quaglietti is a nurse practitioner with thirty-seven years of experience working with chronically ill patients, much of that time at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Health Care System. For more than twenty-five years, she coordinated complex cardiac care through the end of life for veterans. Since 2014, she has worked in residential treatment programs to assist veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, homelessness and addiction. In her current role, she offers photography workshops that incorporate writing as a way to explore personal-recovery themes.

About the artwork:

“I’m particularly interested in how images can be used to recreate a personal narrative and how this creative process can offer healing. I use images such as the one in ‘Baring Bones’ to visually and metaphorically explore abstract concepts such as hope by emphasizing variations of color, light, symbols of nature, and seasonal changes. This image is part of a photo-book project, Visually Hope.”

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