Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Requiem for Doc Nach: Three Years Later

Three years ago, humanity lost one of great ones, my cousin Dr. Jim Nachman, who died suddenly during a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon. “Doc Nach,” as he was affectionately known, was one of the world’s foremost pediatric oncologists. Jim is directly and indirectly responsible for saving the lives of thousands of children through his work and research. Here’s what I wrote about him after we received the tragic news.

I’ve obviously spent some time during these ensuing 36 months thinking about Jim, for we spent many hours together, mostly at White Sox games. One of his qualities – I would call it “interesting” – was his penchant for saying the first thing that came to his mind. For example, while visiting us at the hospital the day Marisa was born – he was moonlighting at Prentice – he asked who she was named for, completing forgetting about his uncle who had died suddenly at age 55 five years earlier. Others were rather amusing.

Jim, Uncle Adolph and I, 1988
Jim through miles and upgrades always flew first class. Sometime in the mid-1980s, he boarded an American Airlines flight to find a large black man taking up a seat and a half. Easing his way into the seat next to him, Jim said, “You must be somebody.” “Yes,” the man replied, “I’m Charles Barkley.” They chatted amiably during the flight.

During a summer afternoon in 2005, Jim was riding the L to Wrigley Field (yes, Jim would take in an occasional Cubs game, usually in the first row behind the plate) when he spotted a young Asian boy with a nanny. Jim said to her, “He looks like White Sox relief pitcher Shingo Takatsu,” a seemingly racial stereotype. “He should,” the woman replied, “it's his son.”

Shingo Takatsu, 2013
Perhaps the greatest tribute paid to Jim was penned by Mary Potts, the mother of a patient who didn’t make it. I reread the entry from time to time to remember how much he gave and how much we’ve lost.

I’ll think of you, Doc, at the Sox game tonight and tomorrow night, when Janet and I return to Section 126, Row 9, Seats 3 and 4. Such good times; I still can’t believe they’re over.
The view from Section 126, Opening Day 2014

1 comment:

  1. Fred! How wonderful to hear from you after all this time!! Yes, three years ago yesterday. Doc Nach's anniversary is marked on my calendar.

    Due to my experiences with Erin, in combination with my observations of those who cared for her while she was sick, I have chosen to enter the world of healthcare and I currently work at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. We are in the process of building a new Cancer Center, and I'll be employed there when the doors open sometime late 2015.

    I created a fund in memory of Erin called Scatter Kindness https://www.keepingyouwell.com/ahh/make-a-gift/ctl/detail/mid/16373/id/82
    and here is some info about Erin and the reason for the fund. https://www.keepingyouwell.com/Portals/32/docs/Foundation/Erin%20Potts%20Bio%20-%20Scatter%20Kindnessrev.pdf

    Nach was part of my inspiration for this idea. Its intention is to help patients find some normalcy amidst the craziness of the cancer world. He certainly taught Erin how to do that, and me too, in turn.

    I write a new blog here http://bethecandleorthemirror.blogspot.com/ to spread the good word about this fund. It's been very successful so far, with more good things to come for sure.

    I do miss your cousin... still. I've shared the post about him quite often as an example of how I hope all patients will be treated.