Praising My Oncologist and Nurse Publicly

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I recently was asked to speak at a banquet for my cancer center and saw that as a great opportunity to recognize those who cared for me.

It feels good to personally thank your cancer doctor and nurse for keeping you alive. And, as I discovered, it’s doubly good when you can do it publicly.

In 2019, I stopped by the radiation center where I had eight weeks of treatment to thwart a cancer comeback. I had not seen the staff for four years, but it felt like I had never left. I wanted to thank them in person for caring for me so well that I went into a blessed remission that continues to this very day.

I left there feeling on cloud nine, meeting up with my cancer treatment team, whom I consider my heroes. But I did not expect to get a call from them the very next day.

“Ron,” the office manager said, “Can you speak at our annual banquet next month? Our speaker has had a personal emergency and cannot make it. We would love to have you.”

I immediately accepted, with one earnest request: Would they please invite my cancer doctor and nurse to attend as special guests? They answered enthusiastically “yes,” and I began to prepare my remarks.

A couple of days later, I received confirmation that they would be attending. I was thrilled!

The night of the banquet, I looked out over the audience to see well over 100 patients with cancer and their caregivers. Seated at my table alongside my wonderful wife/caregiver were Dr. B. and Liz, my excellent care team.

I had done some public speaking in the past, leading writing workshops for corporate clients and regaling civic clubs with a fun-filled talk entitled “Grammar Lite.” But I had never spoken to a group of peers. This night, I wanted to shine the spotlight on these fellow travelers, speaking from my heart and experience.

I spoke about the early dark days of my cancer diagnosis and surgery in the process to restore hope where stress and fear reigned. I spoke about the friendships I made at Gilda’s Club, where I am part of an active support group, as well as a participant in a writers’ group.

Much of my talk was devoted to the caregivers in the room.

“I would like to express a heartfelt thank you,” I told them. “All of the latest breakthroughs in treatment and clinical trials are impressive and important, but what’s happening on the home front is very important as well. You deal with this disease on an emotional level. You deserve a lot of credit!”

Of course, the highlight of my talk was when I formally introduced Dr. B and Liz, who continue to consult with and treat me all these years later.

These remarkable professionals stood by me in the early chaotic days of my diagnosis, my surgery, and cancer’s comeback followed by treatments that brought me into remission (knock on wood!) As Dr. B. told me in those first few months under his care, “We’re going to watch you like a hawk.”

We cancer patients may tend to take our doctors and nurses for granted because we are simply trying to get by day to day. However, once in a while, we should stop, take stock and issue our praise toward these dedicated professionals. And there’s no better way than to do it publicly!

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