As I reflected on my chemo follow-up appointment today, my fingers began counting the number of times I’ve recanted this story. Tears always flow because of the gratefulness, respect and love I have for Dr. Heather.
Dr. Heather is compassionate yet direct, amusing yet wise and sharp yet never omnipotent. The doctor in her promptly returns my calls within a half hour, takes the time to explain and answer all my “myth or fact” questions. The human side of her laughs with me, shares her personal journeys, understands my fears and emotions that come with cancer challenges. There is no such thing as a God complex with her; Dr. Heather is far too genuine. And from the moment we met, the synergy was evident – I knew immediately Dr. Heather was trustworthy.
Not all doctors are this way. I’m certain some sleep or skip through Compassion 101 in medical school. What makes them so different in their approach? I could not begin to speculate. All I know is that from my initial consultation to pre-op and post-op to the chemo appointments, Dr. Heather makes me feel like I am her only patient – taking as much time as necessary to ensure I am comfortable with the process.
But it was one instance that completely reinforced my beliefs. It’s a moment forever etched in my heart.
Anxiously waiting in the pre-op room and after having been poked and prodded for IVs and blood, I was told Dr. Heather would be stopping in to review the surgical procedure. She opened the door with a smile on her face easing the tension-filled room. She understood how I was feeling – just like all of her patients – nervous, apprehensive, hungry but also fearless! Dr. Heather’s business-like manner is ever appreciated and truly holds a bond between us. She matter-of-factly explained the surgery (for the third time) and proceeded to ask if David or I had questions. Minor thoughts sprung from my mouth – I’m certain none of them were relevant. And then she asked the final one, “the” one. In a matter of seconds tension dissipated, peace filled the air, and my heart fluttered.
“Is there anything special you need from me Beth now or during surgery?” Dr. Heather asked as she reached out to hold my hand.
The question was complicated yet my reply was simple – “Just take care of me and use your best judgment. All my trust is in you…”
With that, tears streamed down her face. It was Dr. Heather that needed the tissues and not me.