Sunday, October 19, 2008

Andrew Novick

This afternoon as the girls and I drove to a friend's house for a jewelry party, Jim called. He was reading the newspaper, which I hadn't had time to do. He told me that Dr. Andrew Novick died.

When it was first suspected that I had cancer in my kidney, the community-hospital urologist I had seen recommended I go "downtown" to Cleveland Clinic right away. I scheduled an appointment with one of their urological surgeons. A good friend who works with the doctors at the Clinic really thought that I should be seeing Dr. Novick, the chairman of the Clinic's urological institute, rather than one of his staff, so she called his secretary. When she told the secretary my story (symptoms for several months, currently pregnant), the secretary agreed and got me an appointment with Dr. Novick himself.

Jim and I went together to see him. He immediately ordered a biopsy, and told us that in his career, he'd only had two other patients who were pregnant at the time of their diagnosis. He told us that the biopsy could come back inconclusive, which in his mind meant the tumor was malignant, and would need to be removed. This is exactly what happened - the biopsy was inconclusive. He had spoken to my obstetrician and they were in agreement that pregnancy or no, the kidney would have to come out. So Dr. Novick arranged for me to see one of his surgeons, Dr. Kaouk, that same day. Dr. Kaouk was concerned about my pregnancy but confident he could remove my kidney laparascopically. Because he didn't want to wait long for the surgery, both because of the cancer itself and because of my growing belly, he studied his schedule for some time, finally deciding he could fit me in first thing in the morning on the next Tuesday (five days from our consultation). Dr. Kaouk had trained under Dr. Novick, and so I felt comfortable that they would take good care of me. And so they did, and I became the third pregnant patient successfully treated for kidney cancer by/because of Dr. Novick.

A year later I ran into my reproductive endocrinologist, who had also been a high school classmate of mine. She told met that she had run into Dr. Novick, who told her that they'd had a patient in common... me. I was touched that he remembered me from the hundreds of patients he must have seen during that time.

It's horribly unfair that someone who saved so many lives affected by cancer would succumb to it himself. We know so much about the human body, and yet so little. Dr. Novick was only 60 years old. He was far too young to have left this world.

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