John Y. H. Kim, MD, PhD, shares his thoughts on his patients and the life-threatening conditions they face. As a neuro-oncologist on a team of pediatric neurosurgeons at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center, he specializes in a common type of childhood cancer which involves the brain and spinal cord.
“Since the very growth of the brain defines the magic of childhood development, our main goal is to treat each child without jeopardizing his/her quality of life and the adult yet to be. Neuro-oncologists and Red Sox fans like me are quite certain that nothing is impossible.”
And along the way, Dr. Kim has shared a connection with Make-A-Wish as a source of hope, strength, and joy for his patients. Over the past decade, he has referred 60 children to our chapter.
“I have had the privilege of working among the world’s most advanced and busiest pediatric neuro-oncology groups. Only scattered specialized centers are capable of serving families to deliver such complex care. … What often separates the best treatment programs from the merely successful ones is their quality of collaboration and communication amongst providers and most importantly, with family members. My patients have taught me that in the face of the sheer technical challenges of cancer care, sometimes the most important service we can provide is listening in the support of hope. Each child faces unique challenges in confronting a tumor diagnosis. Like every ascent of an imposing mountain peak … each climber needs a guide who treats each journey to survivorship as singularly important.”
And Dr. Kim is a guide who considers Make-A-Wish to be part of the hope he gives his patients.
Beth Nolan, Program Director at Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area, met with Dr. Kim, and said “He was so thankful and appreciative of Make-A-Wish. He mentioned that often with children and families at the end of treatment, they don’t remember the treatment, surgeries, etc., but they always remember and talk about the wish. He went on and on about how we are the ones who do something good for the child…truly an amazing man.”
One of Dr. Kim’s early referrals to Make-A-Wish was little Carmen, 7 years old, who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma. Carmen loved dolls, and she knew exactly what kind of shopping spree she wanted. But Carmen’s medical condition made it difficult for her to go to the stores. So, in a creative twist, she wished to have an American Girl online shopping spree! Carmen prepared a list of everything she could dream of, including dolls, strollers, matching clothes for both the dolls and herself, and more. On the delivery day, she had an unwrapping party with balloons and cookies to celebrate with her family!
In speaking of his own family, Dr. Kim says “My spouse and I try to teach our children … that how we treat others defines who we are. So as simple as it may sound, I strive to serve folks the way I want my own family treated: with expertise, dedication, and compassion.”
Thank you for 60 beautiful examples of compassion, Dr. Kim.