#78. How he does it - November 2012

In a strange twist, before he came to see me, my surgeon was in the examining room next door to me, meeting with a family.  When he first went in to talk to them, he must not have completely closed the door to that room.  I could hear everything he was saying, although the other people’s voices were muffled.  He was explaining to the person that there was a tumour on their kidney, that it was likely cancer, and he explained the options that they had for treatment.

It was such a déjà vu moment for me.  This surgeon is the one who had had “the talk” with us when my husband was first diagnosed with cancer over four years ago.  What a long journey it has been for us since he spoke those first words.  The long months of waiting, the chemotherapy, the nephrectomy, the recovery, the long agonizing wait as we wondered whether cancer would reappear.  And gradually hope dawning.  And then further down the road, my own thinking about being a kidney donor, which led me back to the surgeon, back to the hospital,  for surgery and recovery, and here I was hearing my surgeon beginning that story again with a whole new family.  My heart went out to those faceless people in the room next to me. I could imagine all the emotions that were swirling inside them.

And the surgeon’s voice was exactly the same;  calm, sympathetic, competent, clear. Answering questions patiently.  At some point a few minutes into the interview, someone closed the door, so then I could only hear muffled voices. I thought about what a hard job this surgeon had, going through this over and over and with many cancer patients each week. 

Around 20 minutes later he came into the room to see me.  And I was a smiling patient, not a worried one.  And I could thank him for doing such a good job on my surgery.  He told me that it was a remarkable gift that I had given to someone.  And I told him that the reason I was able to do that was because he was such a good doctor.  What happened to my husband and I was hard, but our experience with him and the other staff at the hospital was as positive as it could be.  And a direct result of that positive experience was that I would consider coming back willingly and going through that surgery myself.   He saves lives in a lot of ways, not just by what he does, but how he does it, the attitude he brings to his work.

I'm glad I met this doctor, and that I was able to work with him to do something important together.