Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Staggs walked into my office a couple of months ago, looking quite dapper.

Staggs is my work husband/brother. We went to med school together, but I didn't know him because he was on the golf course. We did residency together. We were hired at PLA together. He's smart, and inspirational in his nonchalance. But don't tell him I said that. It will go to his head.

He was upset when I wrote a blog on MiM about LGS. "Where's my blog?"

"Don't worry Brent. You aren't just a blog. You are a whole book. War and Peace. Be patient." I smoothed his ruffled feathers. "Why are you so dressed up?"

"I'm going to see BDQ win an award today at lunch."

"Oh! I'll go too."

If anyone deserves to win an award around here, it's Brian. He has a palette on the floor of his office. He lives there, sacrificing time at home to serve the clinicians. I named this blog after a quote with him in mind.

I gathered HEP and we wandered over to the award ceremony around noon.

The hostess, an admin assistant, seemed flustered at our presence. Easy to see why, in retrospect.

We have a wonderful team of doctors at Baptist and the coordination of care is exemplary when all physicians contribute their areas of expertise to a patient's needs. 
Sometimes the most important physicians on a care team, are the quiet, dedicated, hard working doctors who work in relative obscurity - apart from the busy interchange on a hospital floor or in a physician's office. 
It is these individuals, however, who provide the critical information that will guide diagnosis and treatment - the foundation of a patient's plan of care. 
You can imagine the fear and anxiety when a patient is told there is a mass or a "lesion" that is new and that needs further work up. Immediately, a patient feels vulnerable or in shock and disbelief that then turns into a grasp for hope - a grasp for a plan so that what is shocking and ill defined can turn into something that is manageable and clear. 
At that point, a patient's diagnosis is the key to formulating a treatment plan. It is also important, however, that it provides the patient with a guidepost, a transition point to which to cling until the natural resiliency of the spirit catches
Sometimes the diagnosis is clear and the path forward is relatively easy. But many times, the intricacies and the behavior of tumors or infection can impair the process of a quick determination. It is at this point that those physicians who superbly practice the discipline of pathology transcend science to invoke its art. And the art of medicine involves rising above normal expectations to diligently study, read, ask questions, communicate and research. 
Physician colleagues recognize this unique gift in Dr. Brian Quinn and Dr. Brent Staggs. We have found that these physicians deeply care about our patients, even when they've never met them. They seem to understand that the faces we are privileged to encounter in our serious discussions merit pristine data that then leads to accurate diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. 
Though our pathologist friends handle cells and tissue and things like immunohistochemical stains and receptors, they never see our patients through the prism of tissue, but rather, by their tenacity for accuracy and by their diligence of effort to understand- even long into the night and into the weekends - they prove to us that we present to the patient an army of professionals who care about them. 
It is with great admiration and appreciation that we applaud the heart, minds and efforts of Dr. Quinn and Dr. Staggs.

It was a little uncomfortable for me and HEP, as you might imagine. We walked back to our offices reassuring each other. 

"They are the faces, the ones who like to be out front. Go to the golf tournaments, and the social events. That award was for all of us, not just them."

Dr. Bell was thoroughly displeased. "We need to have black t-shirts made, for the rest of us at PLA. They should say: SUB-PAR Pathologists."

This was an award given to the two guys who discovered Tumor Board at CARTI first. Quinn sleuthed that it was The Nightingale that wrote that speech. Beautiful. A big donation to Baptist accompanied it.

Staggs was embarrassed, and sent this e-mail.  "This was for all of us, not just me and BDQ. Thanks for being my partners."

It's nice to be appreciated. But I like the black t-shirt idea. And I don't need an award to recognize the fact that I am working my ass off. Working my ass of is reward enough. It keeps me afloat on this crazy sea of life, where it is so easy to go adrift.

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