I ate the peanut butter, and it didn’t help

Posted: Mar 01 in Clinical Nutrition Center News by

lazarus-ethan5 years ago I had the pleasure of meeting a new patient at Clinical Nutrition Center. For privacy reasons, I’ll call her Lilly. She was an incredible person with her 60th birthday coming up. She wanted to get healthier and feel better.

She was incredibly successful at losing weight and lost over 50 pounds with a combination of office visits with our dietitian staff, medical visits with me, and anti-obesity medication. However, as oftentimes happens with my patients, as she lost weight, she got more in tune with her body.  For Lilly, this meant she noticed a small lump in her breast. Further evaluation revealed breast cancer which was aggressively treated with surgery and chemotherapy.

After treatment, weight control was difficult but Lilly stuck with it. Unfortunately, though, 4 years later the cancer returned and this time metastasized. I received word last week that she was in the hospital unlikely to survive the cancer.

On a personal note, I was deeply upset and saddened by this. Lilly was such a wonderful, kind person. I had so enjoyed taking care of her! To hear that the cancer had returned so severely in spite of all our efforts was so upsetting. So upsetting that when I got home that evening, I found myself craving peanut butter. And, I gave in. I ate half the jar.

Afterwards, I was still sad. I still didn’t understand why such a bad thing could happen to such a good person. And in addition, now I had a stomachache (which persisted the whole next day).

I learned today that Lilly passed away at University Hospital. I still have that hollow feeling in my stomach. I still don’t understand how this could happen.

But instead of eating peanut butter today, I am writing this article to remember her by. I’m getting something together for her family from the supportive staff at CNC. And I’m looking at a picture of her in our health record, remembering fondly that I got a chance to be a part of this wonderful person’s life. I’ll focus on the fact that because of her weight loss, she survived 5 more years.

Instead of peanut butter, I’m going to get out my cello and play “Ave Maria,” and dedicate it to her today.

Rest in peace, Lilly.  God bless you.


5 Responses to “I ate the peanut butter, and it didn’t help”
  • Jan Brictson says:

    What a beautiful and moving tribute. Lily obviously thrived under your medical care and enjoyed her last few years feeling much better about herself and life in general.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • David Klekamp says:

    I’m touched by your connection to your patient, Lilly. Today I attended the funeral of one of my patients and can very much empathize with your feelings. I find it heartwarming to know that there are physicians such as yourself dedicated to enriching lives and that you have been one of my DOCTORS. Never lose it.

    • Dr. Lazarus says:

      Thank you. Yes as health care providers we help patients live better lives, but all things come to an end. It is very hard to help a patient through the end of life, but also one of the most important parts of the profession. We have to make life better, but also have to accept death. I’ll do my best to practice with compassion – without that, why be in the health care field?

  • Leeann Mitchell says:

    What a great story! Beyond the triumph and defeat Lilly experienced, something else struck me about your story: keeping your hands busy. Instead of turning to food, turn to an activity, such as playing music, or a hobby. Because we often turn to food for comfort from some negative emotion we are experiencing, we can also find comfort, and even joy, from music, knitting, woodworking, etc. RIP Lilly!

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