Patient Stories

/Patient Stories
28 02, 2010

Dick’s art

By | February 28th, 2010|Patient Stories|1 Comment

Dick Copaken was a renaissance man. In addition to being a Harvard-educated lawyer, a successful entrepreneur, a published author and a loving, generous family man, Dick was also an artist. He had painted since childhood, and for him it was not only a mode of self expression, but a way to give something back to the people around him. In the four months between his diagnosis and death, just as he did when he was healthy, he found ways to leave a lasting and positive influence on his his family, his friends and on people he knew he would never meet. Dick Copaken's art is currently displayed at the U.S. Embassy in Japan, an Imperial Palace in Tokyo, the Embassy of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in Washington, D.C., Harvard University, in the Secretary’s Office in the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, and in the backdrop [...]

5 02, 2010

JoAnn’s exercises

By | February 5th, 2010|Exercise, Patient Stories|0 Comments

At every turn, patients who are seriously ill lose control of their bodies. Disease wreaks havoc on humans - lack of appetite, muscle wasting, depression, weight loss - the list goes on. And if all that weren't enough, the treatment for the disease is often times equally insulting to the human form. Chemotherapy causes hair loss, vomiting and other unpleasant side effects. Loss of appetite leads to weakness and fatigue. Getting blood drawn frequently can make you feel like a pin cushion. And as any of my patients will tell you, living with an illness is like riding a rollercoaster. Some days you are invincible and feeling like yourself. Thoughts of your disease only occasionally creep to the forefront of your mind. It feels good just to feel normal. But, as with a rollercoaster, reaching the top of the hill means the descent is close at hand. As you plunge [...]

5 02, 2010

Jeffrey’s New Opportunities

By | February 5th, 2010|Enriching Relationships, Patient Stories|0 Comments

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” - Charles R. Swindoll, American Writer and Clergyman Jeffrey was a 67-year-old gentleman who had a contagious enthusiasm for life and never missed an opportunity to show it. When he was in the room, usually asking questions or telling stories, the world seemed full of possibilities – no dream was too big. His everyday prose was filled with historical references, quotes from philosophers and well-worn punch lines. His professional life brought him overseas for many years, mostly in the former Soviet Union, where he built relationships with other government officers. In my mind’s eye, I often pictured Jeffrey sitting a dimly lit bar in downtown Moscow in the latter part of the Cold War, drinking vodka with a group of his Russian couterparts, holding court, telling off-color jokes or engaged in deep, philosophical conversations. I [...]

5 02, 2010

Steve’s Soul Talk

By | February 5th, 2010|Enriching Relationships, Leaving a Legacy, Patient Stories|0 Comments

The honesty, candor and significance of conversations among the living can pale in comparison to those among the dying. I am repeatedly struck by my patients' inclinations to communicate with their friends and loved ones in ways they never did before they got sick. ~~~ Steve was a gracious, genuine man in his late 50's with an easy laugh and a peaceful demeanor. He had a full head of white hair with a neatly trimmed mustache that sat above an ever-emerging smile. He had a keen sense of humor and a gentle, yet persuasive quality that made Steve a natural leader. His daughters likened his compelling nature to the influence of the Jedi Mind Trick. Once, he walked the family dog into a 7-11, where the clerk told him that dogs were not allowed in the store. Steve quickly replied, “Oh, but he’s blind.” The clerk went along with it. [...]

2 02, 2010

Cyndi’s Cookbook

By | February 2nd, 2010|Creativity, Leaving a Legacy, Patient Stories|0 Comments

Cyndi, a friendly, slender woman with long red hair, was in her mid 50s when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. A nutritionist by training, she knew all too well how serious her diagnosis was. Cyndi grew up on a farm in the Midwest and, after college, spent three years in the Peace Corps. She earned degrees in nutrition and spent her career sharing her knowledge with people around the world. An advocate for vegetarianism, Cyndi traveled the globe – the Middle East, India and West Africa, to name a few – sharing both her love for food and her passion for proper nutrition. She worked with malnourished families to help them make the most of food they had. She was the lead nutritionist for a major health initiative at George Washington University. Over the years she amassed a collection of recipes and cooking techniques so vast and diverse it [...]

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