How many times do you hear of doctors that treat patients like their parts on an assembly line?

Probably too often!

Long waits in waiting rooms only to give you maybe 10 minutes of their time for a quick exam and then writing a script.

While we don’t live in the “Marcus Welby, MD” world anymore given the fact that many doctors work for their practices, there is hope that among the many who do seem to care, one cares to the point of caring even after he’s lost a patient to a malignant brain tumor.

Dr. Joseph Landolfi is someone who remembers his patients long after they’ve left his care.

Indeed he remembers the families of loved ones lost to one of the most virulent strains of cancer, glioblastomas, and of one patiend in particular lost to the disease one year ago.

The story of Victoria Visminas – the tale of a losing battle against one of the deadliest diseases – ended at a small plot on a hillside at St. Bernards Cemetery in Bernardsville.

The story of Joseph Landolfi, the neuro-oncologist who fought that battle with her, continues on.

And as Visminas’s family climbed the cemetery hill to the small marker, the doctor who cared for her played with his kids in the backyard pool, coping with a recent loss that hit close to home.

Visminas died in March 2012 but her ashes weren't buried until the other day. Her sister, Chris, drove down from Massachusetts, brother Nick flew in from California and mother Roberta came up from Florida. Chris Visminas led the family and friends in a few prayers, then placed the ceramic urn containing Victoria’s ashes in the ground.

About 50 miles south, in Freehold, Landolfi was cleaning the house, doing yardwork, then playing in the pool with his three kids. As a rule, he never attends funeral services for his patients, no matter how well he knew them.
But that doesn’t mean he forgets.

“I do think about her,” Landolfi said of Visminas. “I think about patients from 15 years ago. I think about my father every day. It’s hard to forget.”

Life has gone on for the doctor. Over the past year, he’s met about 150 new patients with brain tumors like Visminas'. About 15 have died - and he thinks of them often.

Landolfi and his colleagues at JFK Medical Center in Edison are administering some of the most advanced trials in the world – studies involving gene therapy and vaccines which hope to fight tumors, giving patients the hope of living a few more years.

Still, nothing has been developed that would have saved Victoria Visminas.

In Bernardsville, at a brunch after the burial, the Visminases said it was Landolfi’s blunt, but caring, acumen that helped them to cope with their loss.
Chris Visminas said the family received a heartfelt condolence letter from the doctor shortly after Victoria died. It answered the questions that it could, and helped provide some closure, she said.

So even as they laid their sister, aunt and daughter to rest on a Bernardsville hillside this morning, they said the doctor had helped provide some meaning, some context to the end of Victoria’s story.

On a personal note, my wife has been treated for lupus for the past 24 or so years by one doctor, who has been known to take time out of his day, indeed his time away from his family on Father's Daymjust to call to see how she’s doing.

I don’t know too many doctors that do that.

And it’s only fair to give the ones who do props.

Posse Positive Person of the Day – Dr. Joseph Landolfi – Neuro-Oncologist.