Melanoma, Melanoma and Sarcoma

Closure.


“I didn’t know I could talk to you” he said to me in the clinic today. We hugged and he sat down, “It happened so fast.” We were both fighting back some tears. “She was an amazing woman” I chimed, trying to find the right footing as we talked.

It was the end of my clinic and a family came to see me to find closure in the care of their loved one. This is a side of me that is very private and my voice is sharing this with you. My heart is not.  It is a rare event that I come full circle and have a chance to talk about someone who lived.

What is important to me in the closure of a patient who passes? I’ll share this intimate detail with you now.

When patients cross my path on their extraordinary journey, I deal with their cancer, their treatment and their ailments, I talk shop, science, but I never hear about the way they lived during this time. I never hear about what they did and what they really felt. I want to know that they embraced each day and that they did not let this beat them and that they fought for what they wanted. This was true for me today. I heard how she lived………………… “She hated that pill” and “the sun was all she wanted to do and went out despite you telling her not to” (my goodness, I laughed at that) ……… and we talked more………and I had closure. YEAH! My heart yelled. She LIVED. I always thought I would make the worst patient. I would never let an illness eat away at my life, and I would live despite what the “doctors” say.

“I feel better that I came and talked to you, Mo, I had no idea how to initiate this, I did not know it was even an option” he said to me, staring right at me, through me. I explained he was and always will be my family, and is welcome anytime. I have done this with many families. I guess I want them to know how it makes a difference to me and how it helps me heal too from the loss of a friend. “Thank you for taking the time” he told me, hugged me and left. Really? I believe I have to thank him for taking the time to come to me, to sit with me. One human to the next, is this so hard? What did he have to face? Memories of her treatment, bad news, decisions made……and he came anyway. “I was very anxious coming, I did not know what to expect.”

Perhaps our medical system should have a closure visit built into the system to allow physicians a chance to heal from wounds that sometimes make us appear indifferent or callous. Wisdom has softened my heart, and death has opened my compassion.

I never thought I would be writing like this, talking like this to all of you. When I first started blogging, I thought I couldn’t be myself and that I’d have to talk science and other stuff and be the “doctor”. I am discovering I am not able to do that. I picked Tuesday evening to write because it’s a clinic day for me and I am the closest to my patients when I am in clinic. I also realized how they make me feel.

Thank you, my friends.

Mo

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “Closure.

  1. Trudey Nekola says:

    As I reread this brings back all the fond memories of my sister. It’s been a year and a half already and miss her more each day!! Again thank you for all you did for my sister and our family. Mo I look forward to your post each week as it helps with the grieving! Thank you again ~Trudey~

  2. Jill says:

    Mo, My cousin and very best friend was a patient of yours, she passed on November 7, 2013. Her lyposarcoma, obviously took her from us far too soon. She was a vibrant, classy woman with a spunk larger than life. I tried to be with her as much as possible throughout her treatment. Although I never personally got to meet you we would speak of you, often daily, as we discussed treatment options. She would call me after an appointment and say, “Mo said….” or I would say to her on the way to an appointment, “Don’t forget to ask Mo…” You became a common name in her household and people that were close to her all knew of “Mo.” Thank you for allowing yourself to become a part of someone’s family during the darkest times in their lives. I can’t imagine the struggles that you go through in your line of work, but please know, you are touching lives. You may not always have the answers that we want to hear, but you are honest and straight forward and we always valued that quality in you. There are not a lot of people that could take something like that on, you are definitely making this world a better place. Often times throughout her life with “cancer,” we laughed, went on little adventures, had deep conversations, shared some tears over a glass of wine, and we danced as much as possible. I can honestly say that she LIVED!! Right up until the very last couple weeks when she just couldn’t do it anymore. You gave her hope during a very hopeless time and for that, I can’ t thank you enough. Your blog is a wonderful gift to those of us that have lost someone we love to cancer. Thank you for putting yourself out there.

  3. Reblogged this on Mo and commented:

    I just reread this ….I am touched too by what I write. Your comments have all made me feel special…..really….I am just that idiot passing through

  4. Trudey says:

    I just want to take the time to say thank you for all the wonderful care you gave my sister!! You were her inspiration as she could not wait till the next time she got to see you to see what was next…. not once did you ever let her or our family down!! You are an amazing Dr and sorry that I missed you when you can to visit me when we was at the hospital before my mom passed! That there shows you how much of an amazing person you are. Keep up the good work MO!! One more thing I know that it so helped my brother-in-law and my niece to come meet with you after she passed!! We can not express what you mean to our family…. God Bless

  5. Lori james says:

    Thank you Mo for responding back to me!! I will continue to follow your blogs….I’ve done a lot of research on Melanoma….568 different treatments I have studied….I can only pray that some day there will be a cure for cancer found….I was always asking her about different treatments I came across….I would say to her please just ask Mo about it….in my studies I realized that your job was very difficult…what works for the body doesn’t work for the brain….so many things that factor in….I pray that some of the study drugs that she took may help someone else in their fight against Melenoma….I’m a cosmetologist with a large clientele…I find my self paying close attention to my clients and their skin….offen advising them to see a dermatologist if I think I see something abnormal….I have had several of them that have had things removed….if I can help in saving a life I will do so…..just as you do!! You are amazing Mo!! The people you treat are truely blessed to have you as their Doctor….no matter what always remember that!! God Bless You Mo!!! Thank you again Lori Kay

  6. Lori james says:

    Hello Mo….my name is Lori Kay….as my cousin XXXXXX would call me…..I must share with you….XXXXX was not only my cousin but my very best friend!!! I wish I could have had the pleasure in meeting you…..I live in Arkansas so was not able to…..she spoke only of what a awesome Dr. you are…..you always made her smile!! She had the will to fight with everything she had…..you also listened to what she had to say….you fought just as hard as she did….I was able to spend a week with her in June before she passed in July….she shared everything with me as we also talked 2 or 3 times every week….she was tired and I knew she was tired….she was an amazing wonderful lady….I miss her dearly….when I got word that you took the time to meet w her family…..it made me cry…..when I tell the story to my friends they can’t believe it….they say….her Dr…??? Yes!!! Mo!! Her Dr. …..thank you so much for everything you did for her in trying to beat the fight….she lived 5 years in your care Mo….with one of the number one killers….Melanoma….that in its self says a lot….thank you for sharing Mo!!! I hope that this has helped you….it has helped me in finding closure also!! God Bless you my friend!!!

  7. Jay Gochenouer says:

    Mo, we’ve been doing this for over 3 years now. I am so glad to see this blog. It gives me hope and inspiration to see some of your thoughts that I normally only get when I see you at clinic. I’m probably one of your more trying patients, always wanting to push the limits of the current science further than anyone else has. You keep me in line and keep me educated.

    I hate melanoma, and what it has already stolen from me and what it will continue to steal from me. But you have helped me toe the line and continue the battle smartly. My wife and I love you and Wendee, you have become family to us and we appreciate all you do and the compassion and empathy you both display. There is no other team I would choose over you. So thankful for your team and UIHC. See you soon.

    Jay

  8. Claire barnhouse says:

    Mo,

    Let me say this first. I have really enjoyed and cannot wait to read your blog every week.. First when I heard you were writing a blog I thought “what a blog, but he’s a doctor, when does he have time to write a blog”. So I signed up for twitter and I am so thankful I did..because that I feel has brought me closer to my doctor through these blogs.. I know I see you every month with the time we have in the clinic but i am lucky to be able to get to know my doctor in this way.
    I am sure your other patients and their families feel the same way I do.

    I cannot imagine the stress you feel with your profession and having to deal with death day to day has got to be so hard. I am just starting out on this journey and I hope and pray very hard that I can beat this horrific monster that is learking in the back of my mind everyday. But when I am feeling down and sad I start reading and reading everything I can about this cancer and I have found there is always hope. I find the hope in my amazing doctor of science…

    Claire

    • Claire

      Thank you for inspiring words. I too walk a journey with my patients and feel there is an untold story here too. While sitting on my couch watch some IPTV I get a chance to reflect, I never thought sharing some these thoughts would help me feel more connected to the community around me.

      Mo

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