Dear Dr. Zieber:

t’s Wednesday again, Doc. At least every 4 weeks, on Wednesday, we’ve been coming to see you. And every 4th Wednesday you’ve been there, ready to see us. All I can say is “thanks.”

We met you almost 3 years ago under the worst of circumstances. Jana and I were sitting in a room at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital waiting for some news about our son. The preliminary diagnosis was leukemia; we were waiting to see if that was actually the new state of our lives. And that’s when we met you. You were the one who walked right in, looked us square in the eye, and told us the God’s-honest truth: “Joshua has Acute Lymphocitic Leukemia.” No pretense; no buttering us up; no clouding the issue. That’s also when we knew we could trust you.

And we have trusted you. We’ve trusted you to be our guide over these many months, explaining to us what “dexamethasone” and “Ari-C” are and why they affect Joshua the way they do. We’ve trusted you to tell us what medication levels for him to take, when to add more and when to take some away, and what all of it means.

You were also there that day when Joshua’s blood levels were a little high, and you again looked us in the eye when you told us that his levels were high enough to indicate that he could be relapsing. And you stayed well over the end of your shift in order to speed through the testing and personally call us 2 hours later to tell us that all was well.

You have seen one of our children lose and regrow his hair. And you have seen the other of our children be born and grow into a 2-year-old. It’s not stretching the truth to say that over these past years, there is not a single person who has had a larger impact on our lives than you.

It’s time for us to say good-bye, and don’t think we’re not a little bitter about it. After all, Joshua’s not done with treatment, but you had to be all super-smart-genius-doctor and go and get a job working with children who have brain tumors halfway across the country. Next time try and do something important with your life.

Doc, it’s an incredibly re-orienting thing to know that you are powerless to help your own child. I guess we all are, but sometimes you become so acutely aware of it. In that moment, it’s strange to look at someone you don’t even know and, in a sense, hand his well-being over to her. Though it’s a little trite to say, it needs to nonetheless be expressed. Thank you for what you have meant for our family. And though you might not put it this way yourself, thank you for being the instrument of the Lord in our lives.

Forever Your Grateful Friends –

Michael, Jana, Joshua, and Andi

**Dr. Sarah Zieber is finishing her fellowship at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and moving on to continue her career, specializing in the treatment of children with brain tumors in Colorado.

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