Giving in Gratitude: Doctors Helping Doctors

When a cherished family friend of Michael K. Kerr, MD, medical director of the Emergency Department atMedStar Montgomery Medical Center, was diagnosed with rectal cancer several years ago, he wanted to make sure she got the best care available. “Leigh is my wife’s best friend from law school and godmother to our daughter,” Dr. Kerr explains. “She did not have access to the expertise she needed where she was living so we encouraged her to come
to Maryland for treatment. She stayed with us during that time, though she was not treated at MedStar Montgomery.” 

For the next four years, Leigh was cancer free. Then after a follow-up visit with her physician, she learned the cancer had recurred with multiple metastases. Her prognosis was not good and her treatment options were limited.

 “We again urged her to come to Maryland … this time to see if she might be a candidate for any clinical trials,” Dr. Kerr says. “She saw specialists at two of the most well-known academic cancer centers in the region and all they recommended was standard of care treatment. We were devastated.” 

Dr. Kerr turned to his colleagues at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center for advice. 

“I’d been at MedStar Montgomery for several years by then and knew we had some wonderful specialists here. I just didn’t realize how good they were!”

Leigh was soon introduced to Paul Bannen, MD, a medical oncologist, who completely put her at ease. He quickly pulled together a team that included Luther L. Ampey III, MD, medical director of The Helen P. Denit Center for Radiation Therapy, as well as other experts in the cancer center, who worked with her to develop a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan. 

“When someone has cancer, waiting is one of the most stressful things. To have a doctor understand that and respond the way the cancer center team did, makes all of the difference,” Dr. Kerr notes. “It was truly a caring, compassionate and patientcentered process.”

 Leigh stayed with Dr. Kerr and his family during her treatment, which enabled her to receive state-of-the-art care just minutes away.

“I would drop her off at the Infusion Center on my way in and pick her up at the end of the day. She would be hanging out with the nurses talking about cooking shows and relaxing. Our associates there are so wonderful. They make everyone feel welcome and comfortable.”

Today, Leigh is again cancer free and back to work full time as an attorney. She also recently witnessed the birth of her first grandchild. In recognition of the care she received, Dr. Kerr made a donation to the Capital Campaign for Oncology at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in honor of Dr. Bannen and Dr. Ampey. 

“I feel such gratitude toward the entire team. They made the best out of an awful situation,” Dr. Kerr says. “We are truly fortunate to be able to provide patients with such a high level of care in such a warm and caring environment. MedStar Montgomery is really a special place.”