• Cancer Patient Stories

    In a Word: Dr. Svetomir Markovic on what drives him to fight for his patients every day

This column spotlights the people you think about when you think about Mayo Clinic. They've answered questions, serious and silly, so you can know them better.

You see them at bedsides. Behind desks. You may spot them walking down a hall or sprinting across a lobby, making every effort to look like they're walking. You see them talking quietly with a patient and family, or sitting down with you at a meeting. They personify life at Mayo. They may be friends, teammates or someone you know only by sight. But you're glad they're here. And it's reassuring to know that the health of our patients, our colleagues and the institution itself rests in their capable, friendly, earnest, caring and compassionate hands.

Join us in celebrating them, and let us know if you'd like to see one of your colleagues featured here. Yes, they'll probably be embarrassed and they may even protest, but let's celebrate them just the same.

After finishing medical school in Philadelphia, Svetomir Markovic, M.D., Ph.D., and his wife, Patricia Best, M.D., came to Mayo Clinic "for the beautiful weather," he says, before confessing the real reason the couple landed in Rochester. "Everything we had heard about Mayo Clinic seemed to suggest that this was the sort of place that we would want to be," Dr. Markovic says. "And, fortunately, much of what we hoped turned out to be true."

Favorite part about working here: The warm feeling of community surrounding our shared sense of what we are all here to do: Take care of people. I see this every day.

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: All the wonderful people that I get to work with every single day. Our daily struggles notwithstanding, the folks around this place are top-notch.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): Help someone fight cancer.

A book I would recommend or one I want to read: I just finished a biography of Leonardo da Vinci. It was inspiring. Next on my list is to reread is "Little Women" with my teenage daughter.

Mayo Clinic has taught me: We are not alone, no matter what the struggle.

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: "The best things in life are indeed free."

Most memorable Mayo moment: I will never forget a moment that I witnessed in passing, just outside the room of a patient on one of our inpatient hematology services. A young teenage girl walked out of a hospital room after saying her final goodbye to her father, who was dying from cancer. He was not my patient, and I did not know the family. I did know the doctors who took care of him and who were doing everything possible to save him. This image will be with me for as long as I live. It reminds me of what I need to do every day when I come to work. I simply cannot allow for this to keep happening.

If I could choose the "on hold" music for Mayo Clinic: The theme song from "Chariots of Fire."

Favorite space on campus this month: Three days in two weeks in the same exam room on Gonda 10, I told patients that their metastatic melanoma was gone, and the treatment worked. Pretty cool room.

People who inspire me: All those who allow me to be part of their lives in their struggle against cancer — these are my heroes.

The most fun I've had at work this year: Every time I tell a patient that they no longer need my help and need to start worrying about their cholesterol instead. (I'm a cardiologist by marriage.)

What is something about the practice of medicine that has surprised you: What a profoundly human experience medicine really is. Beyond all the science, the data, the academia, this profession of ours has always been, and always will be, about kindness and care for those who suffer.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W.? Why? I'm not sure I would measure up to play on these teams. I'd be more than happy to be the water boy for any of them.

What I hope patients remember about their visit to Mayo Clinic: They cared about me.