#cancersucks – the work friend who changes you
June 16, 2022
by Dr. Plastic Picker
Hey Rachel. We miss you a lot. All of us miss you. A bunch of emails are going around the department listserv and people are saying memories and their goodbyes. Not much grand-standing or politiking, I think because most of us know you could not stand that crap. I haven’t replied to the email chain because it seemed so inadequate. I posted a cryptic message on Instagram that was heartfelt and Saadia saw it, and replied. Gosh, you’ve left such a big hole in our department. For those that don’t know me in real life, one of our colleages a well respected pediatrician died after a year and a half battle with cancer. She was young.
Thanks for letting me interview you for my blog a long time ago. https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-rachel-guest-pediatrician-and-nature-defender-5/ You were nature defender, pediatrician #5. I hadn’t interviewed many people after you. I think because you were a hard act to follow.
I was in the nurses triage room at Otay, and there is just a bit of quietness. They all worried about you, asked how you were doing. I never really knew all the details of your illness, and I know that you know – it’s because I didn’t want to overstep the work/friend boundaries. I don’t make friends easily. You knew I was there when you needed me. Jong and I emailed a final message to all the nuclear medicine doctors that helped you get those PET scans scheduled asap. I knew you knew I was there when you needed me. I thanked them for you, and included a short few senteces about how much you meant to all of us and the kids you took care of.
It really sucks. #cancersucks I can think of many other people I’d rather died of cancer than you. I’m being morbid and dark now, but you understand I know. We vented a lot together. You called it how it was. But I have to say that at those migraine-inducing early morninng leadership meetings with all the clinic leads, you always seemed a glass half-empty kind of person. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always been your biggest fan, but you were kind of intimidating. Remember when I sent you a sketch of how I thought we could fix afterhours with mock schedules for the 3 urgentologist. OMG, your response was fierce. You essentially ripped me to pieces. I almost peed in my pants! That is true. I mean you trained at Wash U one of the best pediatric training programs in the country and one of the few people at our HMO who knew who Will Keenan was. That man was scary and you survivied a training program that had that brilliant pediatrician questioning your every GI decision. I bow down to you Rachel. You are a better pediatrician than me, which given how fundamentally arrogant I am – is saying a lot.
But your battle with cancer showed me that you aren’t a glass half-empty kind of person. You were tenanciously holding onto life and hope and fighting this cancer injustice every step of the way. It was really passion you had. I was telling Melissa in the lunchroom yesterday, she’s not doing too well by the way. But I was telling her that you were fierce.
What I will remember mostly about you is how fiercely you fought for the young doctors. You advocated for them. You cared so much about them, that you made the rest of us with any sort of decision making responsibility – care as well. I think that is why there is a quietness when we are all thinking of you right now. We are reflecting on how you fundamentally made us all better. This is not a platitude when written about you. It is absolutely true.
This is my blog goodbye, my friend. I’ve cried so much for you. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s all those beach walks. We never got to pick trash together as we talked about. Thanks for being there for all of us doing this climate work. Co-signing all those letters. Being there for moral support for us. I’ll be seeing your family still, and I’m so lucky to know that I’ll get to watch your nieces grow up. Your family are environmentalists, and intertwined with mine as we try to save the earth. Your niece is beautiful by the way. I always thought you were beautiful and thought it was a shame you didn’t have daughters yourself, as they would have been beautiful. But you did have children, your nieces, your patients, and all the young doctors that you helped mentor. I’ve written this last blog post but I will repeat it again. There is no way that souls aren’t recycled. Everything is reused in nature. I think you will be reborn as this graceful egret, it reminds me of you. Lets meet in the next life and work together again. #cancersucks and you are a work friend that changed me and made me better. I can’t imagine the pain your parents are going through now. You were their baby girl who has died before them. But I hope in the next life, you will be again their daughter and the brilliant beautiful fierce person you were in this life. Good-bye my friend.