• Cancer

    In the Loop: Patient brings pipes and a proposal to cancer treatment

prostate cancer patient Doug Walsh in a kilt with family and a bagpiper
Doug Walsh came to Mayo Clinic for prostate cancer treatment and decided that while he was there, he was going to make the most of it. And that’s exactly what he did.

For most people, cancer treatment is a daunting, emotionally overwhelming experience. Doug Walsh was determined to make the best of it. And try to bring a little light to his fellow patients.

Doug tells us the first thing he did when he came to Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus for prostate cancer treatment was to go out of his way to "liven the place up" a bit. The proton beam therapy facility, which became a virtual second home for Doug, was, well, different when he showed up. "I'd say I brought an unusual sense of humor to the room," Doug tells us. "For however long I was there each week, I just stirred the pot."

Mostly, by doing whatever he could to make those around him laugh. "I'd walk into the treatment room every day and make some kind of comment," Doug says. "The first day, I walked in and said, 'Is this where you get on the bus to go Christmas shopping?' And the room just lit up. All of a sudden, everybody's laughing and talking to each other."

After 42 rounds of treatment, Doug's banter and "constant needling" of his care team had made the retired airline pilot a fan-favorite at the proton beam facility. So when his care team found out Doug was planning to wear a Scottish kilt to his end-of-treatment bell-ringing in honor of his Scottish heritage, they decided to do him one better. They arranged to have a formally dressed bagpiper add to the celebration with a stirring rendition of "Amazing Grace." Read the rest of the story.
This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.