The Royal Nonesuch


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Peter Eisenberg, MD and Jennifer Lucas, MD

Drs. Lucas and Eisenberg were delighted to learn they were both featured in an excerpt from author and Marin County native, Glasgow Phillips’ novel, The Royal Nonesuch, where the author describes his first meetings with Peter and Jen. We are all incredibly proud of their “literary cameo”, and invite you to read part of it below!

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“…It was dusk, and we were back in the car to leave when we saw her oncologist walking across the parking lot. This was the doctor who had sent her marrow down to Stanford, and I had missed him on the first day. She told me I was going to love him and rolled down the window to call out. He smiled and came over to the car, greeting her warmly and shaking my hand. His name was Dr. Peter Eisenberg.

Dr. Eisenberg was a portly but vital man, maybe in his early fifties, with the red-bridged nose of a runner and a salt and pepper beard. In the past seventy-two hours, Dr. Eisenberg, without his knowledge, had been comprehensively vetted by my aunt Tawnie—technically my ex-step aunt, but we were as close with her family as with any of our blood kin. Dr. Eisenberg was supposed to be the best, and Tawnie was in a position to know. Her research on physicians, dentists, educators, realtors, babysitters, and any other persons who might provide support services to the job of keeping your families’ lives in order and on track was so rigorous that she could have started her own credentialing service. Not that those were her only areas of interest—she was also knowledgeable in the areas of architecture, contemporary art, and global politics—but without a doctorate in fluid dynamics, you would have small hope of becoming her pool guy.

Dr. Eisenberg may have passed her vetting process with flying colors, but he struck me as being far too happy to be a highly respected oncologist. Cancer was, after all, the pinnacle of seriousness—thus the saying, “serious as cancer” –and this grinning man was wearing a Mr. Potato Head tie. I could not help noticing, as my eye bounced up and down between Dr. Eisenberg’s face and Mr. Potato Head’s, how very closely Dr. Eisenberg, with his tanned forehead, bushy eyebrows, close-set eyes, and different-colored nose, resembled Mr. Potato Head. If Dr. Eisenberg was as smart as he was reputed to be, he was aware that he resembled Mr. Potato Head, and therefore it followed that he knew that each solemn conversation he had over the course of his day as a highly respected oncologist was punctuated by a goofy sight gag.

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My mother asked Dr. Eisenberg if he knew yet whether she had lymphoma. Since she had no obvious tumors, and lymphoma was often detected first through abnormalities in the blood, it already had come up as a strong possibility. Dr. Eisenberg said he didn’t know yet. The results would be in tomorrow. But we should keep our fingers crossed in the hopes she did have lymphoma. “Wait,” said my mom. “I thought lymphoma was bad.” “It’s terrible!” he responded gleefully. “But if you have a lymphoma, then you get Dr. Lucas! And she’s the best!”

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We bid good evening to this madman and went home. The next day we went to our appointment at Dr. Eisenberg’s practice, located in a strip of seventies-era office buildings adjacent to Marin General. There we learned that she did indeed have lymphoma: an indolent Stage 4, non-Hodgkin’s B-cell lymphoma, complicated by hemolytic anemia. Lymphoma was a cancer of the white blood cells—that I knew—and the rest was explained by Dr. Lucas, the hematologist of whom Dr. Eisenberg had spoken so grandly the prior evening.

Her first name was Jennifer—Jen. Like me, Jen Lucas had gone to high school in Marin County, a few towns north. She was one year older than I was. In elegant flats, she was about my height, though by contrast she was attractive, clear-eyed, and serious. While I had been making an ass of myself navel gazing, p***s twisting, and branding scams, Jen Lucas had been going to college on a basketball scholarship, matriculating to Georgetown Medical School, advancing hematology research at Stanford, and being recruited as the youngest partner by twenty years at the best private oncology practice in northern California, where her job was saving people’s lives.”

To read more of Mr. Phillips’ novel, visit Amazon.com or your local bookstore.