Kenneth L Abbott, MD, FACP  |  11/24/2022

Thanksgiving Reflections

We’ve roasted and carved the turkey, mashed the red potatoes, cooked the fresh snap green beans to a nice al dente crispness, served up the sweetly tangy cranberry sauce, and baked the cherry crumble pie. Now that we’ve eaten our fill—it was all delicious—there’s time to contemplate the many reasons why we set aside this day to give thanks.

You might think cancer medicine is a thankless specialty. Many people down the years have asked me how I deal with such a difficult, depressing (in their minds) subject every day. Serious illness, pain, medicines with terrible side effects, the constant specter of death. Why would anyone choose the practice of oncology?

The best reason I know is the abundance of blessings I receive. On this day of giving thanks, allow me to list all the things in Calvert Oncology that gladden my heart.

I’m thankful for the substantial progress in cancer medicine I’ve witnessed over the past three decades, for remarkable advances in the treatment of lung cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, multiple myeloma, and chronic myeloid leukemia, among many other diseases. I’m especially thankful for the availability of highly effective treatment right here at home for the aggressive lymphoma I developed three years ago.

I’m thankful for a hospital CEO and board of directors dedicated to supporting excellent local cancer care for the community of southern Maryland. They, along with the entire health system administration, make our professional lives so much easier, stronger, and capable.

I’m thankful for the Calvert Health Foundation and for the many generous donors who step forward to propel oncology care forward. They give so much more than money.

I’m thankful for the array of diagnostic and therapeutic tools we have at Calvert Health, and especially for the specialists, technicians, pharmacists, pharmacologists, nutritionists, and section administrators who work tirelessly to make sure we have what we need to provide the level of cancer care we aspire to give.

I’m thankful for inspired oncology service line leadership, whose quiet direction often behind the scenes and unheralded is crucial to our effectiveness.

I’m thankful, more than you can know, for the dedicated nurses, medical assistants, and office assistants who daily come alongside us. Without them, we’d be too busy answering phones and recording vital signs to do the patient care work of medicine.

I’m thankful for an award-winning team of infusion nurses, our invaluable right arms in this fight. Their knowledge, compassion, and dedication are boundless.

I’m thankful for my colleagues and their expertise, their professionalism, their mutual support, and their undying commitment to excellence.

Above all else, I’m thankful for all those and their families who, in a most vulnerable time, have entrusted us with their most precious possessions, their health and their very lives. It is an awesome responsibility and a tremendous privilege. Thank you.
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