How well we remember walking into M.D. Anderson for the first time in April of 1981. Here was this gleaming granite structure, a beacon of hope for many, plush beyond comparison to us (having just emerged from the bush of Sudan where structures were composed of mud and thatch).
And what we got was the thinnest sliver of hope for Cammie’s cancer. Just the tinniest, thinnest ledge on the precipice of parental despair. Thin as that ledge was, it was sufficient for a handhold. We held on tight.
Right from the start you were there. You met us, noted we had just come from Africa and let us know that was where you, Dr. Jaffe, were from. And through the shock and pain of the first couple of months, there you were, a rock, an anchor…a dispenser of quiet hope. As busy as you were, we never knew it because it seemed you always had time to answer our questions. It was evident from the start you cared. And you were interested not in just “cure”, but in quality of life.
And, in time, by God’s good grace and your expertise and that of your team, lo and behold Cammie survived. Thrived. I am sure we did not come very close to expressing the depth of gratitude we felt at the time, even though we tried. And there were caveats. Not to be too optimistic, that these things lurk for years. That there might be trouble ahead. We kind of forgot that part for 18 years or so.
Then, BOOM. The first recurrence. Then BAM, the second. We were back looking down into the abyss again, and handholds were even thinner than before.
And through all of that, there you were, as ever, a rock, an anchor…a dispenser of quiet hope.
Dr. Jaffe, we remember. And we will always remember.
Steve and Judy Van Rooy
And for Cammie, Stephanie and Amanda
(This was a Thank You note (one of a number) we sent to Dr. Jaffe, our lead Pediatric Oncologist.