Social Heroes
Hank van Deventer

Dr. Hendrik (Hank) van Deventer

Cure Cancer Hero

Doctor / Researcher
UNC Lineberger Cancer Center
Bio on UNC’s website

Hammering Hank’s Story

I sensed a strange mix. Meeting Dr. van Deventer was as magical as the Louisiana creole hidden behind “van Deventer”. I’ve met and interacted with hundreds of doctors thanks to my 2x winner status (MS and cancer).

Dr. van Deventer is the best most unhurried listener I’ve met. Medicine begins with a story told from patient to doctor (and the stories doctors learn from each other before patients ever share their stories). Doctors who LISTEN interpret and place a patient’s story into medicine’s contest.

My story didn’t seem to fit. After numerous long devastating colds my white blood cell count would not return to normal.Sharing my family history Dr. van Deventer’s looked up when I told him my father was recently diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. “You are young for CLL,” Dr. v told me, “but we will do some test”.

If hospital time is the longest unit of time in the galaxy then waiting to hear if you have cancer makes hospital time seem speedy. When I received a message to call Dr. v the following Friday after four o’clock it felt as if life was about to change.

“Martin,” had said clearly, “it does look like you have leukemia same as your father,” Dr. v said as I sat in a church parking lot seeking refuge from Friday traffic. We set another appointment and the strange Kabuki Theater that is cancer care in America began.

I had cancer.

I discovered just how much of a HERO Dr. v is during our next appointment. “Can you treat my leukemia as if riding a bicycle across America is more important than how long I live,” I asked. “Yes,” was Dr. v’s simple confident answer.

Dr. v Becomes Hammering Hank

That day Dr. Hank van Deventer, the earnest, hard-working best doctor I’ve ever met or had the pleasure to get to know, became “Hammering Hank van Deventer“. Hammering Hank is a hero because he spends TIME and LOVES helping patients and trying to cure cancer.

I love what I do for a living (Internet marketing), so I recognize similar passion in others. Hammering Hank isn’t “football coach” passionate. He is quiet but intense. His passion runs DEEP and STRONG. He spends time in his laboratory and with patients each pursuit lending value to the other.

Some doctors lose passion while others misdirect it. Not Hammering Hank van Deventer. During each appointment Hammering Hank sketches notes as we talk. He shares ideas, suggestions and treats ME not a an isolated piece of me. The last thing Hammering does each visit is MAKE A COPY of “our” notes. One copy goes in my file and he GIVES ME a copy.

How cool is THAT? A doctor who collaborates and them commits our collaboration to my “permanent” record and shares a copy.

Hammering Hank doesn’t just treat me as an intelligent adult instead of malfunctioning child, Dr. van Deventer treats the whole me. Treating the whole ME is very important. When you have more than one BIG health challenge many doctors square off their piece. They ONLY treat their issue. Hank knows my CLL is part of a larger system (ME lol), and he treats the whole me.

He consults with my MS doctor (Dr. Silva Markovic-Please) and my great General Practitioner Dr. Lisa Hartman (who deserves credit for being alert enough to send me to Hammering Hank in the first place), but my care is not a series of “can’t go there” conversations with Dr. v.

Young or healthy may read this post and think I award hero status for very little. People who’ve been sick know why Hammering Hank is a shinning star, why every doctor could learn the art of listening and collaboration from this magical, quiet creole.

Hammering Hank is a HERO helping patients like me and working in his lab to cure cancer.

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