Friday, October 14, 2011

A Story of Compassion

Yesterday, I had a lunch date with Jack's neurologist. I'm fortunate that every year when we come out to St. Louis, she takes time out of her busy schedule to meet me for lunch.  She was seeing patients in the "Center for Advanced Medicine" ("CAM") building and Jack and I went there to meet up with her after she finished. Housed in the CAM building is the Siteman Cancer Center, a non-pediatric cancer center.  The CAM building is a large, modern, glass building with a huge lobby - it looks like a hotel lobby with a valet counter, information center, coffee bar and even a piano where a woman was playing music along with an older gentleman who was belting out "Danny Boy" as everyone milled about the lobby.  Jack and I had to wait awhile for Dr. C to finish seeing her patients and as I was sitting there, I did a lot of people watching.  I saw tired eyes and weary bodies of people being pushed in wheelchairs by husbands, wives, daughters, and sons because they were too weak to walk. There were people walking with canes, people carrying oxygen tanks and people who were obviously in the throws of cancer treatment.  My eye caught a man who was, I'd guess, to be in his mid to late 40s.  He was being pushed in a wheelchair by who I assume was his father.  It was obvious that he had some type of cancer of the jaw, neck or throat because of the incisions on his face.  He had a trach and sitting in his lap was a suction machine.  His eyes looked sad and distant.  However, as his father wheeled him past Jack - the man looked at Jack and then crossed his arms on his chest to show the sign for "love".  It was such a simple, yet profound gesture.  A gesture of compassion that required no words.  What an amazing way to end our week at SLCH - to experience the kindness of that man who felt a special connection to Jack and who showed love in the mist of his own suffering.  It was a very touching and memorable moment.

5 comments:

worthy said...

I think it is lovely that you are able to meet with Jack's doctors for lunch, that sort of thing never happens here in the uk.
Such a sweet man, how nice of him to sign to Jack, there arent many people who truly understand. xxxxx

ssouth said...

I love this anecdote. I always feel a kindred connection when I meet strangers touched by a trach. I never know how to convey this feeling of understanding, so I usually don't. I hope you are having a good trip home and can find ways to relax and enjoy it. I'm so glad I got to meet with you and look forward to January!

Rachel said...

Wow, this brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. I loved hearing how sweet Jack was shown compassion by someone in need of his own.

Christy said...

Beautiful, Ann. I love that you ended your visit on that note. And I totally love that you had lunch with Jack's doctor.

Drive safely home and I hope all goes well. xo

Susan said...

That gave me chills Ann. I love moments like those! I'm glad you've had a good trip. Jack looks so happy among all those beautiful fall leaves! Have a safe trip home.