A Mother and her Two Daughters

31 May 2011

My Dr. McCool

Last night the local television station obviously was in need of a health story to use for the holiday weekend.  And while I’m out of town and missed it, several friends sent me a message that KTHV used a story from last year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month package, an interview with my Dr. McCool – or as they spell it at UAMS, Dr. Issam Makhoul. 

Here's the link.  It’s actually an interview with both of us.  And while the story gave too much credit to the spirit of the patient, I will always know that it was Dr. Makhoul who cured my cancer.  As I shared with friends this weekend, if I had chosen to receive cancer treatment from a dentist in Booger Hollow, I don’t think my spirit of resolve would have taken my cure very far.  While the spirit of the patient is important, it’s the brilliance of the doctor and the medical team and the clinic that delivers the cure. 

Watching the clip via the Internet reminded me about so many things about this wonderful physician of extraordinary ability, and I must share, wondering if you agree.

Today, there’s a real buzz about being an active or informed “health care consumer” with some going so far as to mention “consumer-directed health care.”  While I agree that being an informed patient is a wise move, I own a B.A. degree in social science!  It would not be in my best interest to try to be the director of my cancer care.  What a disaster – which is why the credentials of the physician and the doctor-patient relationship are the crucibles of quality health care.  

In the eyes of UAMS and Dr. Makhoul, I have always been a patient in need of medical care – not a health care consumer.  And I never believed their patient care and treatment services to be a commodity.  Far from it! 

I’ve always been amazed at how much time Dr. Makhoul spends with each patient, never rushed, always explaining in detail the science of the disease, the pros and cons of treatment options, side-effects and obstacles.  I could read all day about Inflammatory Breast Cancer and never be a step ahead of this man. It would not be long before I began to ask him one question:  “If I was your sister, what would you recommend for me?”  He would then share his suggested course of treatment, and that was ALWAYS the choice I made. 

(A note of humor:  For those of you who know Tim, you won’t be surprised that one day we were leaving UAMS and he said to me, “I sure hope Dr. Makhoul likes his sister.”  It would be Tim’s humor that surely got me through some tough times.) 

Dr. Makhoul and Nurse B and Nurse Michelle – they will forever be my medical caretakers (along with Drs. Klimberg and Yuen) and I will always be their patient.  And that’s the kind of relationship I want with my health care provider.

Thank you Dr. Makhoul.  It’s now May 30, 2011.  It’s been 468 days since I’ve been in your care.  One year, three months and 14 days later, I still feel an incredible sense of faith in your abilities, and UAMS too.  And for that, I am very grateful.  

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