Offering a Reason to Believe


Sometimes, hope can be the best medicine we can prescribe. So we do just that.

One day, my brother called to say his 78-year-old friend had been diagnosed with a form of leukemia and was told he had two months to live. This man had a well-known health plan and a physician who said because of his age, because he was a diabetic and had a grave prognosis, no further treatment would be provided.

My brother’s friend frantically sought a second opinion from a cancer specialist not connected to his health plan. He was trapped in a dilemma too common in America today. He was a victim of a cost-benefit analysis, which concluded that expending additional resources on him was futile and a waste.

Contrast his case and that of my mother, who learned her cancer had spread and there was little that could be done. When my mom asked how long she would live, she was told three to six months. Fortunately, though, she escaped the cold, financial scrutiny my brother’s friend endured.

When her oncologist saw the impact the diagnosis had on her and my family, she was asked if she were willing to try two rounds of chemotherapy. Medicare would pay for it. The specialist made it clear treatment would be primarily palliative, not a cure. It probably would only slightly extend her life.

That bit of hope was all my mother wanted, so she underwent chemotherapy. She died just six months after her diagnosis, but she had hope for much of that time. She also had a sense she was fighting a battle she needed to fight.

This issue of Wellspring is all about hope. And it begins with what we call a “Giant Dose of Hope,” featuring a Hall of Fame baseball legend we were able to help at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield.

Willie McCovey came to Dr. Charles Sonu, who heads our spine program, after hearing of his work with other athletes. His condition was worsening; Willie simply wanted hope he could walk again and make it back to spring training as the Giants begin the defense of their championship.

Not only did he get hope, but he was able to walk onto the field and throw out the first pitch of the World Series. And, of course, he was able to ride the streets of San Francisco and make his way to the podium when the Giants celebrated their first World Series victory since coming to the City by the Bay. Our premier spine surgeon has given Willie hope to lead a more independent life in retirement.

We add to his several other stories of hope.

There’s Madeleiene Burroughs of Fairfield, whose hope in her battle against cancer is to live each day to its fullest, regardless of the odds.

Holly McKee’s wish is for her baby to live a healthy and normal life.

Our stories of hope, we hope, are an inspiration to others who face the prospect of serious medical conditions and who need a reason to persevere.
We can offer compassionate care, advanced medicine, close to home. But we also can add a giant dose of hope.

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