Love Notes: Dr. Ari Umutyan

by muddy feet mama


I have not posted in quite a while.  Jay is in Hospice and I have deferred to his writing, choosing to let his voice be our voice.  I realize it is time for me to have an independent voice, though I still reserve the right to speak for both of us – Jay and I – at least for the weeks I have that luxury.  We are separating and I must strike out on my own in many ways, but first I’d like to  write love notes on both our behalves.  My first love note is to our oncologist Dr. Ari Umutyan.

Ari, you are a lovely man.  I cannot imagine the weight you carry home to who is surely an amazing wife.  How could this have been your calling?  We were a train-wreck of neglect, but you brought us into your care.  We knew more of Jay’s cancer situation after 10 minutes of your review than ever with our previous oncologist…  You accepted us and gave us years of life together.  We raised children during those years.  We considered God in those years.  We are more able to face our future because you helped have this extra time together.  Thank you.  Thank you so much.

I imagine we are basically the same age, you’re probably (slightly) younger.  Your kids are certainly younger – I’ve glanced at their photos printed out on your simple printer, 8.5 x 11, taped to your office furniture in your modest office.  Sweet faces, maybe a boy in a soccer uniform, maybe a young girl…  I have never pried.  I heard the sound of your wife’s cell phone ring during one of our visits and you excused yourself to answer.  Good man.  With the weight of so many lives on your shoulders you are not only serving us but you know that ultimately your priorities are with your family.  Damn straight.

Jay and I are amazed at your compassion and brilliance, able to focus fully on the minute details of so many individual patients, and yet be ever-ready to respond to your family’s needs.  Our prayer for you is to continue in your demanding calling to serve cancer patients but to always keep your family first in your mind.  We know that children deserve the finest parentage, and I believe you understand that too.  You are a fine doctor and evidently a fine parent and husband.  God bless you and all your beloveds – I do not doubt that you are capable of facing any need your family has with grace and fierce devotion.

Lastly, please let me praise your professional brilliance and the amazing team you surrounded us with.  Immediately after meeting you we had the names of Angie and Adelle, Hospice Bad-Asses and Cancer Support Gurus (Love notes coming soon).  You advocated for surgery twice before your tumor board allowed it – I am confident last year is something I owe to you and your Mr. Wizard, Dr. Kanan, exclusively  (yet another Love Note for a future post).  You have always collaborated with us regarding any treatment choice – your scientific expertise always willing to bend towards the intuitive understanding of your patient’s sense of their own body.  Every patient hopes for a physician like you.

As we face the end of Jay’s life, as I consider the future while reflecting on the road that brought us to this place, I have nothing but love and respect for you, Dr. Ari Umutyan.  You are the impresario who conducted the last years of this opera.  We could not have wished for anything finer.  You are a brilliant and deeply compassionate man.  We are so grateful to have been served by you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you,

Adrienne (and Jay)