I recently took care of a wonderful 60-year-old gentleman who had one of the worst cases of malignant melanoma any of us had ever seen.

He started with just a small tag on his skin, but shortly after it was removed it came roaring back, and rapidly spread throughout his system.

It was so aggressive that one of my most seasoned colleagues, his surgeon, expressed disbelief and insisted on doing more biopsies. These came back predictably positive despite my best treatments, and with such fury that all we could do was stand back and watch. I hospitalized him for his final days because of the terrible pain from his advanced cancer.

Throughout it all, he never complained. He kept a Bible at the bedside and he and his wife prayed regularly. She was immensely brave through it all, and expressed no hostility or angst while watching the cancer progress, despite our best efforts to save her husband. They both spoke openly about their faith and their firm belief that all that was happening was God’s will. I happily supported their faith, which I know was a comfort to them. They were always kind and grateful to me as I attended to them, even though I was obviously outmatched by the disease I was supposedly “treating.”

A few weeks after he passed, I received a “Thank You” note from his wife. It read, in part:

Thank you so much for being Dave’s doctor. We knew God appointed you to that difficult task! Without a doubt we know that our loving God used you according to His plan for Dave.

I keep her note on my desk in my office. Every time I read it, I am a bit overwhelmed. I have been given much high praise throughout my career, but nothing quite like this. I am reminded about my mission as a caregiver, who, like all caregivers, truly is an appointee from God, to care for His children. All it takes is to remember that we all carry His undying soul within each of us.