Sometimes with all of the stresses of battling the system to help our patients and assure that our practices will survive, we need to be reminded about why we choose oncology—the special patients and families we get to work with. The following email sent by the husband of a patient who had recently died with breast cancer eloquently tells the story of what makes oncology a special opportunity for all who choose it as a profession. (The names have been changed to protect privacy.)
Dear Dr. M:
It is with an unbearable heavy heart that I need to let you know that we lost Kay yesterday afternoon. After a long 10 day battle in ICU, she died in our arms peacefully and with no unnecessary life support.
I want you to know how much my family appreciates the work that you and your team did for Kay and for all affected by this disease. Because of your and others dedication to curing and treating, Kay LIVED (not survived) for 15 years post diagnosis in 1999. She saw our son graduate from high school, graduate from college, graduate from grad school and most important to her, see our only child’s wedding. For that, I thank you.
As late as this week, she would call other Docs “Dr. M”. You had that much impact on my family. You convinced her and gave her hope that it was possible to beat this and she took that and ran with it. She did beat it.
Kay didn’t let the cancer define her, she defined it. We will celebrate her life tomorrow comforted by hundreds that she touched.
May God bless you on your journey to end this terrible disease.