Dr. Larry Otteman reflects on 34 years of practice with McFarland Clinic Oncology. He is retiring in July.
I was interested in the sciences even in high school. A prominent family physician in Sac City, which is where I was growing up, sort of nudged me towards thinking about medicine.
So you do medical school, get your MD degree, and then you go to an internal medicine residency. I was in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where my beautiful wife was also working in the laboratory. I soon learned that if I ordered a bone marrow on a patient, she would come up to the floor, and then I would go down and look at the bone marrows with her. So it's sort of a Valentine, romantic career choice on my part.
Oncology is a very dynamic field. I am doing things in my 34th year of practice here that I was not doing five years ago. It changes that dramatically.
I think one of the great assets of the McFarland Clinic are not just the staff, not just the providers that are here, but the patients we take care of.
The one story that I carry with me, I carry because of one of the patients. What he told me, I tell to almost every patient and their family that I visit with, and that is: You will be told that you have cancer. And you hear the words, and intellectually you understand at least a little bit of what that means, but you won't believe it for at least a week.
He said, "I used to wake up every morning, roll over, and say to my wife, 'I had the strangest dream. I dreamt that someone told that me I had cancer.'" And he said, "Let people know that that's going to happen." And that's been so reassuring for so many of the people that I deal with.
I'm still proud to call all of the people that I work with partners and see in their work and their attitude a real dedication to patient care. And that was true 34 years ago when I came, and it's just as true now.
The nice thing is that the new faces are people with the same commitment. No one's in this by themself. We talk to each other about patients all of the time. We share in the care of each other's patients. It just makes for a much better care that our patients get because, whether they know it or not, they're oftentimes getting a second or a third opinion as to what's going on.