Melissa Dyer (35 years old, 5 cm olfactory groove meningioma), Green, Ohio.  

(Mrs. Dyer did not mind revealing her full identity.)

The following is not a typical “patient testimonial.”  Rather, it was truly a surprise e-mail, received from a patient who had her surgery 3 1/2 years ago, a few months prior to my departure from the Cleveland Clinic:

Dr. Lee,

I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude. You removed my large olfactory groove meningioma in December, 2013. I am pleased to say that I am doing great! I live my life with the last words you said to me during our last visit at Cleveland Clinic a few months before your departure. “Go and live your life. Love your life”. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of you and send you positive mojo! I am now involved in advocacy for the brain tumor community in DC. Specifically, NIH funding, oral chemotherapeutic parity, and pediatric brain tumor research. I am finishing up my PhD in healthcare policy and plan to serve as an advocate for the brain tumor community long into the future. All thanks to you! I keep in touch with Rachel. She sent me an update on you and I am glad to hear you are well! You should know that you have quite the fan base on Facebook! 

Interestingly, my brain tumor was a gift. The best gift I have ever received. It has brought me such immense gratitude and appreciation for life. I have taken the time to travel more (including climbing the Great Wall of China), appreciate all of the little moments with family and friends, reprioritize what is important. It has changed most aspects of my life. It has totally changed my outlook.  

I can’t imagine what it must be like to perform such complex and intricate surgeries on a frequent basis. What a gift. You have my eternal respect and gratitude. You always will. I realize it is difficult to remember every case and every patient. That’s ok- it’s part of having a large and successful practice. My words are echoed by many of your collective patient population. You have given us all the most wonderful gift you can imagine – your life’s work that has forever changed our lives.  

Wishing you all of the love and happiness this vast, vast world has to offer. You are simply an amazing human being! 

Best,

Melissa Dyer, RN, MSN, MBA

Associate Lecturer, Parent Newborn Nursing

Health Care Policy and Delivery Systems Leadership

Kent State University College of Nursing

 

To the above email, I wrote back:

Dear Melissa,

What a pleasant surprise to hear from you!  You truly made my day!!!  Glad to hear that you are doing well.  Since it has been nearly 4 years, if you have not done so, please obtain a follow-up MRI.

I have recently completed my website (www.ValleyNI.com).  Please visit it at your leisure.  Under either “Patient Education” or “Meningioma Center” (within the “Centers of Excellence” heading), you will find the Handbook for Meningioma Patients.  It was written for my future patients, but out of gratitude to my former patients.  Please read, especially the Preface section. When you get a chance, please share the link with whomever you deem appropriate, including your Facebook pals.  

Lastly, if you don’t mind, I would like to upload your email, without your name, just using your initials and your home town.  Please provide me with your age at the time of your surgery and the city of your current residence.  It will be uploaded, with your permission, to the “Testimonial” section.  

Have a wonderful weekend.  Give your dad an extra hug and kiss this (Father’s Day) weekend. 

Warmest regards, 

Joung H. Lee, M.D.

 

Melissa then wrote back:

Dr. Lee,

How wonderful it is to hear back!

You may absolutely use any of my words in a testimonial. I am more than happy to share anything about my experience with you and your patients. My appreciation and love for you as a person is up there with my children, parents, and husband. I would do anything to help you and, therefore, other patients. Feel free to use my name and any other information you feel might be helpful. Would a picture be helpful? Sometimes putting a real face to the words can be helpful during a time when patients feel alone and isolated in their experience. If so, I am attaching a family picture taken this fall. Feel free to use it. I’m also attaching my faculty photo from Kent State, where I teach nursing. Likewise, you certainly do not have to use them. I’m just trying to help as much as possible. I was 35 at the time of diagnosis and surgery. I live in Green, Ohio.  

The Handbook for Meningioma Patients is excellent. Your kind words to patients, about your wife, and thanks to God demonstrate your kind heart and humility. Even as a master’s prepared nurse- I had so many questions and so much anxiety prior to and following my diagnosis and surgery. You were kind enough to meet with me several times prior to surgery to answer them. The answer to one question led to more questions. I just looked at the notebook I had during that time and found (literally) pages of questions. You were so kind- answering all of them. The Handbook would have answered all of my questions and relieved quite a bit of anxiety I had. You have included quantitative research in words that are understandable to the lay public. Knowledge is power and your Handbook gives patients knowledge in a time when they have little control. It also demonstrates your leadership in research and clinical experience and expertise in this area. It was such a blessing to have your expert hands in my type of tumor just an hour away. Should I have a recurrence, I will certainly be traveling across the country to CA.  

Do you mind if I share it with the National Brain Tumor Society and American Brain Tumor Association?  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance in any way. Again, thank you for taking the time to respond!  

Best,

Melissa

 

Melissa’s e-mail was received on Friday preceding Father’s Day.  As I was so moved by her e-mail, I wanted to share it with my own children.

I sent them with the following short message:

An e-mail received this morning from a former patient. 

Let’s all focus on what is truly important in life – God, love, family and health.  

Praise the Lord! Have a great day and weekend!

Love you all,

Dad

Nicole (daughter-in-law) wrote: I just read this. Seriously… WOW. Thank you so much for sharing  this wonderful message!  Sometimes it’s so hard to prioritize the most important things in life when we all live such busy lives… BUT we need to remember to re-prioritize and thank God for all that we have. Love you guys so much! Have a wonderful weekend. 💕💕💕

My oldest son, Terry, wrote: WOW. This changed my mood completely and put things in perspective. Thank you for sharing and love you fam! 

My second son, Nick, wrote: So amazing. Love you guys!

My youngest son, Ryan (Nicole’s husband), wrote:  Amazing. I teared up. So proud and lucky. Love you all.

 


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