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  1. A A Khorana
  1. The James P Wilmot Cancer Center, and the Department of Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 601 Elmwood Ave, Box 704, Rochester, NY 14642 USA;

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    I’m a physician, an oncologist. I take care of people with cancer. I’m trying to write a love story. It’s a little disjointed, so bear with me. I’m going to start in the middle, with wedding pictures. No particular reason, except perhaps because it’s the high point of the story. Then I’ll work my way back to the beginning. And the end—well, it’ll be at the end. Or, not: that’s right, I might not write an ending. You see, it feels good to be able to control something.

    It’s kind of sad, if you think about it: the only way an oncologist can write a pretty love story is if he skips the ending . . ..

    The wedding pictures were beautiful. Perfect, really.

    Strangely enough, that’s what I remember most, of that tumultuous year and a half. Looking at their wedding pictures in the chemotherapy suite, where she and her husband had brought in their wedding album. She sat in a blue recliner, holding the album in her lap, turning pages using her left hand. The golden brown chemotherapy agent infusing into her right antecubital vein contrasted with the blue of the armrest. Her husband sat on a little stool to her left, helping her flip the pages. I stooped awkwardly over her right shoulder, gazing raptly at the collage of images. They were in nearly every one of the pictures, with friends, with parents, with family, always smiling, laughing, glittering, glowing. The situations differed: in jeans and t-shirts, rehearsing; animated faces and hands crowded around small tables, raising toasts; bare shoulders accentuated by black dresses and black bow ties on a dance floor; in obligatory portraits, surrounded by symmetrically positioned (and colourmatched) friends and family. They, and I, lingered most over pictures of the ceremony itself: …

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