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Lessons from an ailing grandfather
  1. Brian J Secemsky
  1. Correspondence to Brian J Secemsky MD, General Medical Clinic, San Francisco General Hospital, 1001 Potrero Ave 1M3, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA; brian.secemsky{at}ucsf.edu

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My grandfather has lived through almost a century without having a single major medical event. Now well past his golden years, he will often have me sit down in his old dusty library during my visits to recount his full and incredibly adventurous life as a world-travelling physician. From teaching Western surgical techniques in India to receiving official commendations by the former Taliban-ruled Afghanistan for exemplary medical care overseas, I cannot help but characterise my grandfather as a mix between House and Indiana Jones. After regaling me with many of these protracted but entrancing memories, my grandfather would often take a deep sigh, turn to me, and say, ‘Brian, I've lived a good life and I wouldn't have changed a thing’. And I believe him.

Over the past several weeks, my grandfather has been suffering from a deep progressive pain in his abdomen that ultimately required medical work-up. After the recommended tests were completed, it was discovered that a cancerous tumour in his …

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