A Doctor Speaks Out


Today, over at Laura Munson’s blog, I found an amazing doctor.  Dr. Gary Hammer, a rare-cancer specialist at University of Michigan, wrote an open letter to cancer patients everywhere.  In it, he shows humility and grace. 

Debunking the myth that a doctor has to maintain “objectivity” when treating patients, especially terminal ones, Dr. Hammer claims, instead, that vulnerability and grace open up for both patient and doctor.  During an illness, when everything else has been stripped away, the patient and the witnesses, come to be present in a way that everyday life rarely offers.

When my husband, John, lay dying in a hospital bed, I witnessed heroic doctors and surgeons that never gave up on him or his treatment.  John’s too was a rare cancer that most patients die from (quite often cholangiocarcinoma patients are given only months to live).  But because of the tests at Mayo clinic, and the work of Dr. Gores, the cancer was found early for John and he was able to have a transplant, which saved his life. 

Just as Dr. Hammer suggests, rubbing up close to death brings a vulnerability that John and I both experienced.  Perhaps that is the lasting gift:  stripping away the noise to reveal the vulnerable present. 

Here is a link to Dr. Hammer’s letter: http://www.annarbor.com/health/the-roller-coaster-chronicles-an-open-letter-to-cancer-patients-everywhere/.

3 responses »

  1. Kim– Thanks for getting the word out about this amazing doctor’s message. So glad it touched you and so deeply glad for your husband’s move through cancer and for your Dr. Gores. yrs. Laura

  2. Kim, thanks for saying hello on my blog! I’m looking forward to reading more about your book and the life-changing events that shape it. Your mention of Mayo Clinic reminded me of similar sentiments my dad has about the doctors that cared for my mother when she was a patient there many years ago, heroic in their efforts.

You people are amazing. Thanks for commenting.

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