Today’s post is in remembrance of one of our dear Eye Cancer Heroes who sadly passed this January. Before his passing, Richard Pratt shared his experience at Wills Eye. Today we would like to share with you his kind words in hopes that it may grant comfort to those visiting the Shields’ office for the first time.
An Experience of Wills Eye Hospital
Richard J. Pratt 1942-2013
Today I visited Wills Eye Hospital (Philadelphia) for a follow-up visit with Dr. Carol Shields relative to a discovered ‘freckle’ on my retina in 2001 by an Optometrist (Dr. Puente). This was followed by a visit to Wills in January 2002 for surgery (radioactive plaque treatment), laser treatment and follow-up visits for a period of ten years. The treatment went well and now, as of today, I will be followed up locally in Syracuse by a retina specialist (Dr. Sam Spaulding).
Today was filled with many emotions and thoughts of this whole experience and in particular my visits to Wills. To begin with, there was the experience of Philadelphia (the ‘City of Brotherly Love’) itself; Cosi’s (Philly’s Panera with a stronger metro feel), Rittenhouse Square, the students everywhere, everyone carrying a shoulder bag or back-pack, all that history, the Fall urban air and on and on. It had its own distinct signature.
With all that as a context, then there was Wills. Going to Wills was like going on a pilgrimage to a place of cutting edge medical wisdom delicately blended with a place of deep caring and compassion. Not an easy blend to maintain. I always returned home with gaining much more than feeling that I was getting the best care but the most compassionate care. The waiting room was a place of people sharing their stories, knowingly or unknowingly. You sensed that no matter the outcome, something very significant was happening. All were not experiencing good news but all were experiencing a healing touch that reached beyond the medicine through the deep felt humanity generously shared. The diagnosis developed in front of you by a staff team with ‘student’ physicians (students of the techniques developed by Drs. Jerry and Carol Shields) and the possible options laid out. The style was that you were a participant rather than ‘just a patient’. It was most refreshing and deeply respectful. It clearly communicated that you were responsible for your own health and their role was to provide you with resources…their wisdom, skill, and techniques. It was a learning experience and a translation of what the Hippocratic Oath means for today’s world.
In all this, not only was an eye saved, but a lesson was learned and a life was extended.