Thursday, June 23, 2011

Allie Pleiter on Heroes

One of the great blessings of our lives these past two years has been that God placed extraordinary doctors in our path. I give thanks every day of my son’s survival that he has Comer Children’s Hospital’s world-renown pediatric oncologists fighting beside him.
One of his leading doctors recently passed away.  A larger than life, heroic guy, Dr. James Nachman was astounding.  Brilliant, bold, funny, passionate about his work, so direct he would make my jaw drop, dedicated often beyond reason.  A one-of-a-kind man, although his patients would probably give you hundreds of different reasons why.  I spent the days following “Doc Nach”’s death pondering what made this man so incredibly effective and beloved.  The answer came from one of my editors.
She once told me, “Make your heroes as big as your villains, and your villains as big as your heroes.”  Dr. Nachman excelled because while pediatric cancer is an ominous foe, he was an even bigger persona.  A seemingly un-opposable force of nature.  There were days when that man felt to me like Tolkien’s Gandalf standing at the abyss roaring “You shall not pass!”
We love heroes because we need them.  We need a champion larger than our challenges.  What have been your favorite heroes in books?  Who has been that hero in your life?  What made him or her heroic to you?  If you haven’t told your real-life heroes how much they mean to you, do so soon for one day--like “Doc Nach”--they could be gone.


  1. Allie, we had one of those doctor heroes in our life growing up but she was a tiny woman. Dr. Neumann was well acquainted with loss, having lost her entire family in the Holocaust. She adopted all her patients as her family and even came to my wedding.

    She saved my life as a premmie and later saved my sister's life from a rare blood disease. She was "just" a pediatrician but she fought for her patients, whether they were the children of senators or homeless unwed mothers, as an advocate.

    She may have been under five feet tall but she stood taller than any other hero I know.

    So glad you had a doctor like her in your corner.

    As far as fiction goes, I appreciate those heroes who fight for what is right and for their loved ones. Too many to name.

    Prayers and peace, Julie

  2. Allie, I remember you talking about this doctor. I'm so sorry he died. I'm sure that was a loss for your son.

    Julie, your pediatrician sounds amazing!

    Most of the larger than life people I know are famous authors I see from afar at conferences! :)

  3. Hi Allie:

    All my heroes are heroines. (Sounds like a song.)

    My real life heroine is Dr. Linnea Smith, who when her husband died young, went to the Amazon to try and recover. She saw a whole people who had no doctors and she stayed. You can read her story here:

    My fictional heroine is Rose, the therapist in “Sisterhood of the Dropped Stitches,” who set up a ‘knitting group’ for four pediatric cancer survivors – young girls who didn’t have dates, proms, or the growing up experience but who now were young women. Rose helped change their lives in wondrous ways.

    This four book series, by Janet Tronstad, is an idea gift for young girls dealing with cancer. There is so little good reading for these patients. What a gift.


    P.S. I know what you mean by doctors. If I was born the year my father was, I would have died three times over by now.


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