HOUSE, M.D.: Memento Mori
Author's Note: Background for this story and non-House characters will be found at (fiction press dot com) story title is 'Changes'.
I have most of this story hand written and just need to type it up which I hope to have done in the not too distant future.
"18-year-old female in remission from lymphoma with leg pain admitted this morning," Dr. James Wilson said as he got on the elevator with Dr. Greg House one cool spring morning.
"How interesting," House replied, blandly as he watched Wilson flip through the file. "Probably a tumor. Remove it, follow up with chemo and pray."
"She's been in remission for 2 years, 3 months," Wilson said as he handed House the file. "525 different cancer treatments in about 3 years."
"You're making that up," House said as he took the file, skimming over the contents. Looking up at Wilson, he cocked an eyebrow. "This is just this visit? Where's the rest of the file?"
Allison Cameron and Robert Chase jumped when the massive file landed on the table in the Diagnostics room. "What's all this?" Chase asked House, looking at the name on the file.
"Nicolette Brennan," House said as Cameron, Chase, and the newly arrived Eric Foreman started sorting through the medical file. "18, cancer free for 27 months, currently suffering leg pain. No history of bone tumors."
"How many treatments has this girl had?" Cameron asked as she looked through the file.
"525, last count," House replied. "Ranging everything from homeopathic remedies to experimental chemo that's still in the testing phases."
"It's a miracle she's not dead," Chase said, pulling out part of the file. "Her parents took a lot of risks on her treatment."
"They wanted to save their daughter," Cameron said, shrugging.
"They tried Dr. Freidmont's autoimmune protocol," Chase muttered, handing the paper to Cameron.
"You're kidding," House said, going to read over Cameron's shoulder. "That protocol got pulled 4 years ago."
"Yeah, after 89 percent of his patients died," Cameron said, gloomily. "Looks like Nicolette was the last one to undergo the treatment."
"How can someone use autoimmune diseases to fight cancer?" Foreman asked, looking confused.
Cameron sighed. "You use a certain group of drugs to change the make up of the cancer cells so they prey on other cancer cells instead of breaking down healthy cells."
"But the risks usually far outweigh the benefits," Chase said as he stood and started pacing. "The patients that lived usually ended up with lupus or some other autoimmune disorder."
"Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis could explain the leg pain," Cameron piped up. "We should get a full autoimmune panel."
"Get a lumbar puncture, too," House said as he paced the room, thinking. "And get a bone marrow and lymph node biopsy. Just in case it is cancer."
"House…" He looked at Cameron who looked slightly apprehensive. She took a breath then said not just what was on her mind, but on all of their minds. "If her cancer is back… she has no chance. She's going to die in a matter of days. Maybe a couple weeks."
"Yeah," House said, sadly. "I know." For once, he couldn't think of a single snark to throw out.
Nicolette 'Nica' Brennan was curled on her side as Chase inserted a needle into her back. She hated this. Being poked and prodded like some kind of science experiment.
"Almost done, Nicolette," Chase said as he filled a small vial with fluid.
"Call me Nica," Nica replied as Chase finished. "I hate my full name."
"Okay… Nica," Chase said as he helped her roll onto her back. "Just relax. We have you scheduled for a bone marrow and lymph node biopsy later today."
"What joy and fun," Nica said, wearily. "Any idea what's wrong with me?"
"We're testing for a few things," Chase replied, purposely being ambiguous.
"Let me guess…" Nica said, smiling ruefully. "Autoimmune or return of the cancer."
"You'll be alright, Nica," Chase promised as he started to leave the room. "I promise." He just hoped it was a promise he could keep.
Shortly after the lumbar puncture, Wilson entered Nica's room, holding a box of chocolates. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine, I guess," Nica said, taking the chocolates from Wilson. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. How's your leg?"
"Not so bad now. The nurse gave me morphine," Nica replied, shrugging.
Wilson sat down next to the bed and paused for a moment before saying, "We checked your CSF. No autoimmune."
"So most likely… my cancer's back and I'm going to die," Nica said, her tone flat.
"There are some new treatments—" Wilson began, but she cut him off.
"If it's cancer, drug me up and cut me loose. I don't want any more chemo or radiation… No more. If it's something else, great. Treat me. But not for cancer."