Today is National Doctors’ Day, when health-care organizations recognize the work of physicians and their contributions to their community and society. The best recognition, however, comes directly from the physician’s patients, such as this letter to Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, a Hartford HealthCare colorectal surgeon:
Dear Dr. Cohen:
Ten years ago, on Sept. 8, 2006, I had my surgery. I remember that day vividly, hugging my children and family for dear life, crying hysterically, feeling that I would never see them again! The anguish that I experienced leading up to that day, writing letters to my kids on every milestone in their lives from birthdays, graduation days, their wedding days, etc., with instructions for my husband to give them to them on each occasion if I didn’t make it. My mental state was beyond comprehension. Fear had taken over.
You recognized that fear and rearranged your schedule to operate on me sooner than later so I wouldn’t have to worry more than necessary. Your constant reassurance and caring ways helped more than you will ever know. I instantly trusted you and knew that your expertise was beyond any other doctor out there.
A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of what you have done for me. Sept. 8 holds a special meaning for me. It is the day I got my life back!
I had spent over 18 years suffering every day of my life, sick as a dog and always fearful of surgery. In hindsight, it is the best thing that I have ever done.
I know you have performed hundreds of these surgeries, but I am not sure if anyone has ever told you, years later, just how much you have done for them and have changed their life.
Because of you, the little boy who you gave your Yankees championship hat to (Michael still has it) has now become a 6-foot-tall, 19-year-old young man studying Management & Marketing in his sophomore year at Bryant University. He is still, in my eyes, my baby — and I got to watch him grow up.
Because of you, my beautiful daughter, Amanda, is now 22 years old and has graduated from Lasell College with a degree in fashion merchandising and is now getting her MBA. I was there every step of the way, and I couldn’t be more proud.
Because of you, I got to be at every birthday, plan, prom, dance recital, cheerleading event, basketball, baseball and soccer game, graduation and so much more!
Because of you, I have gotten to celebrate 26 years of marriage to my husband and will have many more years to come.
Because of you, I have been blessed to be with my parents longer. I lost my dad last year to cancer, but I was given more time with him because of you.
So much has happened in 10 years, a lot of joys and sorrows too. I could go on and on. My point is you and you alone made me able to be there for all of these times, you made it all possible.
I can’t bring up your name without getting emotional. Tears are flowing as I write this.
I am trying so hard to put into words what I am hoping you will understand, how much you mean to my family and me, but I can’t seem to do it justice.
Dr. Cohen, I will always be eternally grateful for everything you have done for me, not only for the remarkable surgery, but for the compassion you have shown along the way. You gave me my life back and have given me more time to create beautiful memories with my family and friends. You have given me more time to love my children.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the biggest and best gift of all, which was allowing my children to not have to grow up without a mom!
God Bless you, Dr. Cohen!