As a free, life-loving spirit I danced away as a young girl all the way up through college. Then, taught aerobics in grad school, rollerbladed around Central Park for hours on end, ran a half marathon, worked-out religiously (often twice a day), and my diet was nothing but healthy….
After a breast cancer diagnosis at 35 years old: chemo, radiation, poisonous, radioactive meds that circulated my previously healthy body, several (7) surgeries… I’ve never been the same: mentally, emotionally nor physically. Over the years, I’ve consulted doctors from 5 different hospitals. Doctors appointments with a slew of specialists took over my life. Finally, I had had enough. I was disgusted with the level of care I was receiving and the caliber of doctors that I encountered. I had to regain control and feel like a human again. I needed to speak and be heard and in return be spoken to like an intelligent human being; a devastated, intelligent, human being, but ‘human’ just the same. So, back to the drawing board yet again and did my research once more. There had to be better care than this out there somewhere. This time, I found NWH and Dr. Steven Rosenberg. I made a consultation appointment immediately.
In tears and probably not all that coherent, Dr. Rosenberg listened to me and acknowledged my suffering. He was professional, kind and honest. Afterward, he insisted I have a second opinion and I chose Dr. Sharon DeChiara, also with NW’s Surgical Services Department. The torturous complications and feelings of isolation that I had been suffering soon stopped. To say that Dr. D is the best doctor I have encountered in 7 years would be a gross understatement. As a medical professional, she is experienced, brilliant and upright. Most of all, however, is that she is not just a fine doctor but an extraordinary human being. With the debates about healthcare today, if you were to ask me what’s wrong with our healthcare system I would tell you that the system does not emphasize enough the importance that doctors put their heart and soul into their work. Ironically, in the medical field it seems that empathy is secondary if it is considered at all. And by empathy in medicine, I mean the understanding and acknowledgement of the physical and emotional suffering of a patient.
Somewhere in the Hippocratic Oath there is a part that states it is warmth, sympathy and understanding that outweigh the surgeon’s knife. Dr. D and her staff are a group of consummate professionals and nurses that handled each of my cases with medical logistics and love. The clinical utility of empathy as part of good medicine they showed should not be questioned, but rather the responsibilities of medical schools and hospitals to practice it daily should be intrinsic. Not only is Dr. Sharon DeChiara’s surgical knife a precise one, but her warmth, sympathy and understanding are unrivalled. Not a fraction of what I am able to articulate here can truly express the gratitude that I have for Dr. DeChiara, Dr. Rosenberg and their superb staff.