Dr. Robert Pick

“5:05 in the morning, August 26th, I fell to the shower floor. Long story short, I got my appendix taken out as it had blown! The pain was unreal. Two days later sitting in the hospital bed, I’m watching the surgeon coming down the hall. I was on staff at Northwestern, and still am, so I knew everybody. I see the Pathologist Chairman and the Oral Pathology Chairman walking with the surgeon. They looked very serious, and all three are total characters, so it wasn’t because of their personality. The Oral Pathology Chairman sat down with tears in his eyes. I got a bit worried. He grabs my hand, hugs me, and tells me, ‘I told them I’d be the one to tell you what has happened to you. You have a very aggressive adenocarcinoma of your appendix. We are worried that you have less than six months to live. My heart is broken, I don’t know what to do.’ I thought I was going to defecate my pants. I was scared to death. The next day, they took part of my intestine out as they were worried my cancer would spread. I was referred to Al Benson, who is now a world-renowned Oncologist. This was very early on for the internet, so Al and two of his colleagues went to the library for a full week to study my situation. He said, ‘You’re going to go through 14 months of experimental chemo and radiation never done to a human before. Radiation for three months in the middle of the time frame, and a chemo pack though a Port-A-Cath that will be consistently rolling for 90 days during the radiation in addition to the weekly chemo’ I lost my eyebrows and my hair everywhere on my body but my head. They couldn’t figure out why my head wouldn’t shed. I lost 35 pounds. 14 months later, they were surprised I was still there. I never missed a day of work, except for when I was at the hospital. I signed off on 41 side effects that could potentially affect me. 2 of the 41 side effects got me. The first one happened about 7 years ago. I was walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago and I stumbled and fell. A week later, I stumbled and fell again. I went to a Neurologist I knew and he determined it was one of the side effects of the radiation at the level of the appendix. Now I have to walk with a cane due to a weakness below my waist. Then I went deaf overnight in 2017. I was given a cochlear implant thank goodness. My voice sounds like Mickey Mouse to me. I got a bit depressed. I couldn’t listen to myself play guitar very well. But muscle memory came back and I still play every day. With time the helium effect of the cochlear implant is lessening. The moral of the story is: don’t let anything get you down, ever, because you can find a way out of it. I talk about this all the time when I lecture; ‘In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity’ (Einstein).”