Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why I Work Here

If you've read this blog before, you know I work at a cancer hospital in Boston. It's not too hard to figure out, but I've left the name out for a whole lot of reasons - but that's not why I'm writing this now. In this month's hospital newsletter, there was a link to "In Their Words" which are letters about the care patients have received at the cancer hospital that they've given their permission to share with all of us employees.

There have been times when I've said outright that I've hated my job and had issues with my coworkers or boss. I've even called this hospital elitist. When it comes down to it though, I am damn proud to work at this institution. Why? Because I see the progress that is made in the battle against cancer every day. Hell yeah, I see its failures too, but there is something to be said for the fact that my study's living patients take up 3 full filing cabinet drawers and the deceased patients only take up about 1/2 a drawer. That's a pretty good thing right there. Furthermore, as elitist as they may be, the doctors here care. I just recently read a condolence letter sent out by a guy in my department to a person I know whose wife died. I almost started to cry, it was so heartfelt and sincere. That's why I come to work, because we're doing good and people care.

I am just going to post a letter I read that really sums it up great. I've anonymized it for privacy but you'll get the gist:

June 4, 2007

Mr. X CEO/President

Cancer Hospital, Boston, MA

Dear Mr. X,

I would like to thank you and your fine staff for the wonderful treatment afforded to my wife in her battle of breast cancer that has metastasized to her liver. I don’t quite know where to start and let me apologize to you with regards to my letter writing skills, I don’t normally do this, what being a blue-collar worker and all.

My wife, was diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer in October of 2006. Her oncologist referred her to the Cancer Hospital to Dr. W. A meeting was set up to see if my wife could possibly take part in a clinical trial. After meeting with Dr. W, Dr. T and clinical nurse M, it was determined that my wife would be able to partake in the trial. So every three weeks, we would motor down from northeastern MA, and my wife would receive her treatment. I would go with her and I am glad I did. Not only did I receive an education concerning cancer, I was also able to observe the workings of a hospital that is world renowned, and I came away with a profound sense of gratitude. The following is an attempt to describe my observations.

First and foremost, is Dr. W. You could not have anyone better to head up the department and also what a superb spokesperson to represent Cancer Hospital on a national scale. His knowledge, humor, and genuine concern for the best for my wife is so greatly appreciated. And to add to that, his wonderful working relationship he has with his staff. He has the utmost respect from the medical community and to all who came in contact with him. I know I’ll fall short in being able to express his abilities but let me say that he is the real deal. To be able to conduct himself in such a manner, to have so much on his plate and to hug my wife, well I can’t say much more than that. We are lucky to have crossed his path and I owe him a great deal for allowing me and my wife to hope.

Next is Dr. T, a fellow in Hematology/Oncology. A doctor with a smile as bright as the light of hope. Her attentiveness to my wife during her time there goes way beyond what I expected. I mean I thought I was back in the 50’s where the doctors made house calls. She would call many times to see how my wife was doing. She no doubt has a busy schedule and to take the time to call, well that speaks volumes about her. You need to keep her and with the tutelage of Dr. W, she can only serve Cancer Hospital and her patients with nothing less than excellence.

Moving along—Nurse M, RN, BSN, where do you find people like her? Warm comes to mind when I think of her, and again knowledge flows. She certainly was on top of things and made our life less chaotic, what with her scheduling expertise. She gave us her home phone number, just in case. “In case of what?” we asked. “Anything,” she says. Another case of compassion.

The list goes on and on. From H, her assigned nurse to administer the chemo. She sure was able to relax my wife and was there for her all the time. Miss A, the dietitian, who spent time going over a proper diet in one more item to fight this insidious disease. The social worker, a Miss G, who made us aware of financial matters that might be of some help to us, and she followed up. I do not know all the names of the people who made our visits there as enjoyable as they could have been, given the very reason why we were there to begin with. But from the parking lot attendants, the people on every desk we had to check in, the blood work, the x-rays, the cafeteria personnel, volunteers, library, and no doubt someone I’ve missed, represent Cancer Hospital in a caring and professional manner. I thank them all.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special thanks to Dr D, for it is she who started the ball rolling, and you can take all of the accolades mentioned above and apply them to her. Having her here in northeastern MA at the Local Hospital is a blessing—my wife so respects and loves her.

On behalf of my whole family, we thank you. You are to be commended for running a fine hospital. To have all those wonderful people working there filled with compassion is pretty special in a world filled with turmoil. I see a puzzle before you, you have most of the pieces in place, and I can almost see the completion. I know you will solve it, how can you not given what you have? I wish you continued success and again I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


P.S. The treatments, so far, are working!!!

Booyah. It's funny because I used to fantasize about giving my 2 weeks notice. Although I'll know it'll be time to move on when I get my Master's in ConBio, it'll be with a wee bit of a heavy heart that I give my notice - I've learned so much here, I've met so many smart and kind people, and I've seen so many of my patients come here so very sick and make it through treatment to be kicking ass and taking names less than a year later. I think of them often, sometimes even when I'm jogging, and I know they and the greater parts of this institute will follow me wherever I go.....

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