Dr. Allen met the seven-year-old Mary Jane his first morning on the job at St. Jude’s. The cute little blond was sitting on the edge of her bed when he came in to tell her that he would be directing her new course of therapy.
“Why do it?” she said. “I heard the nurses say I’m so riddled with cancer I won’t last a month.”
“My God,” Dr. Allen said. “Who was saying that?”
Mary Jane looked over at the nurses standing by the door. Dr. Allen shot a look full of daggers at them. They rolled their eyes.
“They said I could croak any day now,” Mary Jane said. She frowned.
“Now, darling,” said the doctor, “we’re going to help you feel better.”
“Are you going to put me out of my misery?”Mary Jane said. “That’s what they said you should do.”
“Excuse me for a minute,” he said to her. He got up and motioned the nurses out into the hall.
“What in the name of heaven were you thinking?” he said to them.
“She’s a cute little thing,” one of the nurses said, “but she’s been hanging on for years. There is just so much of her you can take.”
“Get out of my sight,” Dr. Allen said. He went back into the room.
Mary Jane sat with her thin little legs hanging over the side of the bed.
“Don’t be too hard on them,” she said to Dr. Allen. “I start vomiting and become incontinent and really, just turn into a zombie, practically. Frothing at the mouth. Spraying cancer germs everywhere. I’m practically one big cancer cell at this point. It gives them the willies.”
She gave the doctor a cute, winsome little smile.
“I’ll have their jobs,” the doctor said.
Just then, Mary Jane’s parents came into the room. They were dressed like bums. Dr. Allen introduced himself to them.
“Another new therapy,” Mary Jane’s dad said with a groan.
“She’s been terminal for years,” her mom said. “We’ve lost everything. We’re living on the street.”
“Tell me that it will kill her or cure her,” the dad said. “You’ve been dragging this out to insane lengths.”
“I feel certain that I can buy Mary Jane another six months,” Dr. Allen said.