The Heart and Soul of an Oncologist


(10/10/11) – Diane Summers Clarke was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in June of 2001. McLeod Health Oncologist Dr. Sreenivas Rao became her principal treating physician. Because of Dr. Rao’s excellent care, Diane was able to lead a meaningful, joyful and productive life for eight more years.

Finley, her husband, shared that during her long battle with cancer, they visited major medical centers such as M.D. Anderson and Johns Hopkins. In his opinion, none of the physicians they encountered at these prestigious institutions was more knowledgeable or demonstrated better medical judgment than Dr. Rao. Diane was able to receive the vast majority of her treatments at McLeod Regional Medical Center allowing her to be close to family and friends. Not only did Diane benefit from the close proximity of having state-of-the-art cancer technology available in her hometown, she also experienced the very special compassion exemplified at McLeod Health.

"Dr. Rao is well-loved by patients and families and for good reason," says Pamela Elliott, the Director of the McLeod Oncology Unit. "He is involved — truly involved — in the care of his patients from the very beginning of their long, and often tumultuous, cancer journey.

"And, sometimes when the journey is drawing to an end, it is quite common for him to sit quietly on the bed, holding their hand, stroking their arm, and listening silently while the patient and family members share their most intimate moments of tears and fears. When the battle is lost, Dr. Rao remains to continue to provide comfort to the family in the only way still remaining — sharing in their grief," added Elliott.

It is the special dedication of physicians like Dr. Rao who want to help heal their patients’ heart, soul and body that means the most to patients and families at McLeod.