Online Lifestyle Magazine for Healthcare Workers by Pulse Uniform

Teg’s Winning Comment – Congratulations!

Hello. I am a physician assistant in the Air Force. Transitioning from construction to this career in 2001, I found it difficult to find any sense of accomplishment or satisfaction for a long time. Prior to this – the results of my labor were physically evident and easy to see. Now – no matter how much time I spent working – there was the same amount and more the next day and it seemed to never end.

That’s when I met Kathleen. She was a pleasant 51 year-old female that presented at the end of my clinic one day complaining of 2 weeks of “bloating” but otherwise felt fine. After a quick history, I started my physical exam – admittingly thinking about my departure that would surely start soon. Upon starting the abdominal exam an eerie feeling came over me and soon my whole life would change.

Spending hours with STAT ultrasounds, CT scans and labs the results were in – she had ovarian cancer. Several more minutes were spent discussing her results and options and arrangements were made with GYN oncologist that evening for the following days and my day was finally done. As I walked down the dark deserted hallways and to the lone car in the parking lot I wondered what more I could have done.

In the following months she had surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. I was out Christmas shopping one evening and there she was with her family. I went on with my shopping and she rushed over to me and introduced me to her son as “the doctor that saved her life.” I was quite surprised and didn’t know what to say, I never thought I would ever hear those words uttered about me.

She followed up with me regularly and we happily watched her CA125 levels fall closer and closer to zero. But one day, her levels in the low double digits started to rise rapidly – doubling. She quickly followed with her oncologist and the news was very bad, she was going to die.

The image of Kathleen towards the end of her life as I sat with her in her home holding her hand is burned in my mind almost a decade later. I wasn’t able to save her but she changed my life and now I know why I do what I do. It’s not about the day to day “work’ we do, its about them, the relationships we build, the lives we touch, and the lives that touch us. I have been through similar scenarios many times since, both with lives lost and lives saved. I have been to funerals and have been to celebrations. I have watched surviving family members cope with loss and put their lives back together and find love again.

I am happy now to be what I am – days that I am overwhelmed and under staffed I look back to Kathleen.

– Teg, Physician Assistant in the Air Force

About Mecheil Lewis