My life as a Malaysian doctor in the United States.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
It's easy being the doctor.
But sometimes, the tables get turned and things hit a bit closer to home. In this case, someone close to us, someone we consider family. My Buddy.
In this case, we got the devastating news that one of our own, esophageal cancer. When we heard, it hit us like truck, and left us reeling in shock and disbelief. Even now, it's hard to imagine especially since he looks so well. But, being in medicine, you know the odds. And frankly, it's scary.
When we heard, it seemed like everyone put on their doctor's hats. Even my Buddy. He coolly and methodically outlined the test results, the staging, the prognosis and mean survival. After all, who would know better than him, the oncologist. The patient.
The most bitter irony of all; the cancer doctor has cancer.
He calmly outlines how he wouldn't recommend surgery, or radiation therapy. Because he knows the odds.
And then everyone just started giving medical and nonmedical advice. Perhaps out of habit since this is our work. But as Alan, another friend, put it, "But what were we thinking? This isn't my patient. This is my friend!"
And as always, it seems that the worst things happens to the best people. In this case, a wonderfully considerate and gifted young man, with a bright future.
Though dealt with this blow, it is perhaps heartwarming to see the sudden and overwhelming outpouring of support from friends and colleagues, near and far. Case in mind, when we were going to be late for an appointment because of a test and I called ahead for him to see if they would wait up for him, the front desk said, He's one of us; we'll wait as long as we have to.
On a Friday evening.
I was oncall last weekend, and it was hard for me when I saw a patient on consults, who was just seen by Buddy a week ago, for 'autoimmune hemolytic anemia'. Instead, my astute friend suspected a valvular problem and ordered an echo, which led to his mitral valve surgery on Thursday. He was just full of praise for Dr. Buddy. Little did he know. I had to swallow the lump in my throat.
Nonetheless, it is clear that Buddy is deeply loved and cared for by many. We continue to see acts of kindness and generosity every day, and I continue to see immense strength and faith and clarity of mind in Buddy.
Where we go from here is totally uncharted territory, one that frankly scares most of us. More so because we're medical professionals and know the odds. But Buddy knows he's not alone, and that we make this journey as a family.I ask for you to pray for Buddy, and his family.