Dr. Puri is the author of “That Good Night,” a memoir about her work as a palliative medicine physician.
Nine years ago, near the end of my residency training, I sat across from a patient, wondering whether he’d accepted that he was dying. He was in his 60s, an artist with sinewy arms and serene eyes, someone I’d come to know well over the past three years. Cancer had broken into his liver and bone marrow, robbing him of hunger and energy.
Each time I saw him, the hollows of his cheeks deepened. I wanted to tell him that he was dying, that I wanted to understand how he envisioned spending his remaining life. But he mostly spoke about his plans: a camping vacation in six months, a friend’s wedding after that.