February 14, 2014

A Love Letter to My Lung Surgeon

bouquet of red roses and love letter on blackAt 5:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning in 2008, which just happened to be Valentine’s Day, my two sisters, several very close friends and I walked into South Miami Hospital and into the twilight zone. Not one of us knew what was in front of us ­– especially me, the patient – but we all put on our best game face and acted like this was just another normal day in the neighborhood, even if it was Valentine’s Day and I was about to go under the knife to remove a cancerous lung node.

And Valentine’s Day has been the most special day of my life ever since.

Dear Doctor,
I know that I am not the only patient you have who thinks you are a superstar, because you have saved the lives of many people. Every day I am so grateful that you took the time to put in the extra effort to become a leader in thoracic surgery with robots. I LOVE THAT ROBOT AND I LOVE YOU!

I love that robot so much that I asked my sisters to buy me a robot to add to my doll collection. So while I was in the operating room, they went to a toy store and bought two robots, because they didn’t know which one I would like better. The errand was good for them, because, like me, they were so freaked out they needed an assignment while they were waiting for me to come out of surgery.

When I first met you, I was too tired to even think about what you were saying to me. I had been in doctors’ offices all day long: the oncologist’s office (about to start chemo for my breast cancer, which was canceled); the pulmonologist’s office (who told me what to expect after the lung surgery); and then in your office, where I have no clue what you said and neither did my friend. We just put our faith in your hands and hoped that you knew what you were telling us was true. We picked a date for the surgery and then I left your office and I saw you in the operating room two weeks later.

I knew I would be OK based on our conversation – or what I thought I heard you say.

And whatever you said, you were right. I left the hospital less than a week after the surgery and went back to work the week after that with no restrictions. I had no pain, and today all I have as reminders of that day six years ago are two tiny scars that nobody can see – one in the front and one in the back of my upper torso.

I have been told that if the lung cancer doesn’t come back in the first couple of years, there’s less likely to be a recurrence. Of course, I don’t really know that for sure, and neither do you, but for now I am fine. I have no trouble breathing and performing my normal activities ─ and I owe it all to you and your skills as a thoracic surgeon.

I sincerely thank you and want you to know that for as long as I shall live, you will always be my Valentine!

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Muriel, editor, six-year cancer survivor


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