Health: How Their Stories End

I always wonder about the patients: after my stories go to print, how do their stories turn out? In October I got an e-mail from Suellen Bennett, whom I had interviewed last year for a piece on young women and breast cancer. At that point she was 35, with a scar on her chest and a head bald from chemo. Today "I look a lot different," she wrote. "I'm back and I'm better than ever."

Journalists are supposed to be objective, but you always root for the patients. When I met Christian Kelly, he was 2 months old; already he'd endured two open-heart surgeries. But I held out hope, remembering the little Boston Red Sox baseball cap hanging on his hospital bassinet. Maybe Christian could beat the odds, too. This fall Trish Kelly let me know that her baby, not quite 4 months old, had died. "It's hard," she said, "but I keep trying to look at all the positives. Christian was such a blessing."

Michael Romano was, too. Battling a cancer called neuro-blastoma since 1999, Michael had been in and out of hospitals for years. But disease didn't stop him. After our story ran in April, Michael played in his hometown baseball league, cheered his beloved Yankees and learned to fish. Just after his 11th birthday in June, he caught a nine-pounder. "That started the greatest summer he ever had," his mother, Sharon, told me the other day. But his body gave out in October. At his funeral, "he looked like the best little hero you could ever imagine," Sharon said. He was buried in his Yankees uniform.

Health: How Their Stories End | News