For lunch yesterday I was a guest on "DoctorRadio" (Sirius 114 and XM 119) hosted by oncologists Abe Chachoua, M.D. and Silvia Formenti, M.D. of the NYU Langone Medical Center. The doctors banter, joke and egg each other on while talking about advances in cancer treatment and survivorship.In short: they are terrific. Laughing and cancer aren't the likeliest twins but we had a few (laughs, that is) during our hour-long talk.
A number of incredible moments -- completely unexpected -- evolved. The show's producer, Patty Hall, had described the physicians' interviewing style as "intuitive and organic" and I was open to that. Both doctors, I was honored to discover, had read an article of mine
At one point Dr. Chachoua read aloud a few sentences I'd written about my Mother's death from cancer in l987:
"Sometimes the tools we have to help someone we love so much feel small. Toward the end of my Mother's life, it was the offer of a wash cloth, a sip of Pepsi, an assurance that for this minute -- for right now, I am right here by your side. The closer you walk to death the clearer this becomes."
Then Dr. Chachoua, a specialist in the treatment of lung cancer and recipient of an American Cancer Society career development award, talked about the deep loss he felt after losing a patient unexpectedly earlier in the week.
In that instant the topic went from being facts, figures and numbers to a deeply felt moment by professionals who dedicate their careers, work 15 - 16 hour days, research and see patients in their quest to help find a cure for cancer.
And in that instant I could not help but thank Drs. Chachoua and Formenti on behalf of all cancer survivors and their families. Without physicians of their humanity and calibre we would be up the proverbial creek without a paddle.
We walk minefields with our oncologists. In so many cases we are able to celebrate and cross an imaginary finish line. Sometimes it is not so happy, but there they are, extending their knowledge, and when we're very fortunate, an extraordinary humanity.
My question to who: who was the oncologist who made the difference in your journey? Please comment and tell us about him or her. I really look forward to hearing from you.
Links: http://www.sirius.com/doctorradio www.voicesofsurvivors.com www.curetoday.com