A Tribute to Dr. Roger Lange
There is nothing else that I can write about today.
This afternoon is the memorial service for Dr. Roger Lange, a dear friend and colleague for more than thirty years, who died a few days ago after a long illness. I am going to include the announcement that my husband, who was a really dear friend and colleague since their Fellowship days, sent to our group. Before I do that, though, I want to add a few memories.
I know many women whom he cared for, and, with no exceptions, they loved and trusted him. Each spoke of his healing touch which manifested itself in the mood he set through even the most difficult conversations. Everyone left his office feeling better, and one woman said: "I could walk in there feeling so scared and sad, and, when I left, I felt like dancing." No matter what the news.
He was irreverent and funny and known for his humor and seemingly always calm demeanor. His regular suggestion to patients who asked what else they could do to fight the cancer was "Eat more broccoli" (always said with a grin) He knew everything about his patients' lives and made sure to talk with them about their families, their trips, his own most recent bike adventures.
Many years ago, we both cared for a marvelous woman named Terry Chandler. She had leukmia which eventually recurred. At that point, she went to the Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle for a bone marrow transplant (remember,this was a long time ago when there were few transplant centers in the US) and died during that process. I spoke at her funeral, and then sat with Roger at the cememtery, in the second row, directly behind her family. We were given a flower, and, at the conclusion of the service, after the symbolic shovelfuls of dirt, the family and close friends were asked to drop the flower into the open grave. Roger held back, and took my arm, so I stayed with him. After everyone else had walked away, he motioned to me to drop my flower, I did. Then, the very last, he dropped his, and said: "I promised her I would be with her to the very end."
Well done, good and faithful servant.
> Dear Colleagues
> It is with profound sadness that we share the news that Dr. Roger Lange passed away last night after a long illness. One of the foundational faculty members in our Hematology-Oncology Program Roger's excellence served as a beacon for patients, referring doctors, physicians-in-training and nurses.
> A Harvard summa and HMS graduate, then Chief Resident in Medicine at the BIH, Roger joined the hospital staffs of both the Beth Israel and Mount Auburn Hospitals. His reputation as a "go to clinician " and "doctor's doctor" was quickly established, as was his role as a medical educator. It is commonplace for his patients to reflect back on the most difficult conversations, and recall that no matter how difficult the news, they always left the office feeling better than when they went in. Roger rose to become Chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology at the Mount Auburn Hospital and remained on the staff of both medical centers until the time of his death.
> Although his profession brought him close to existential realities, his joie de vivre, love for laughs, gadgets, and athletics of all sorts were his balance points. Avid cyclists, the Langes made numerous trips all over the US and western Europe, the majority of which were planned in great topographical detail by Roger
> When giving a keynote address at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's annual "Celebration of Life" event, Roger's wit, empathy and compassion are embodied in the advice he gave to the nearly one thousand cancer patients and family members in attendance. Urging them to continue to live life to the fullest, out came "just remember, cancer, shmancer, as long as you've got your health!."
> Lowell E. Schnipper, M.D.
> Theodore and Evelyn Berenson Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Chief, Hematology/Oncology Division Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Rabb 430 330 Brookline Avenue Boston, MA 02215