Five summers ago, Pano Tsarouhas (18) came to the Shower’s Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders as a patient. He’s back at Akron Children’s this summer, but now he’s learning what it’s like to sit across from patients as a provider.
“I wanted to shadow Dr. Hord to help me evaluate different paths for medical school and to see what care looks like from the doctor’s point-of-view,” said Pano. “I hope to gain a lot of knowledge about hematology and oncology during my time with Dr. Hord and that the experiences help prepare me for what is to come in my future studies.”
Pano has already observed Jeffrey Hord, MD, director of pediatric hematology-oncology at Akron Children’s, from a patient’s perspective when he was going through his own cancer treatment. At 13, Pano was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma just before his freshman year of high school. He was athletic and healthy with no outward signs of a problem until he got a fever and had trouble breathing on vacation. Scans at Akron Children’s revealed a large tumor pushing his lungs about 90 percent closed and shifting the placement of his heart.
“Dr. Hord was amazing in offering up treatment options that were available to me and now I see how he does that with each patient he meets with,” said Pano. “The whole team at Akron Children’s truly wants to help children get better.”
During Pano’s 8 months of treatment, he learned how to manage medicine and life from within the hospital. He had tutors help keep his academics on track while enduring rounds of chemotherapy and proton radiation therapy to shrink his tumor to a negligible size. Pano’s treatment was successful. He got back to school, soccer and left with a renewed appreciation for medical care.
“It is very different seeing a patient than being one. As a patient, I remember thinking some of the questions asked seemed weird and unnecessary, but now I understand it’s helping the doctor rule out lots of possibilities for different diseases, disorders or other problems,” said Pano. “I’ve only been observing Dr. Hord for a month or so, but as I listen to the conversations he has with the patients, I like trying to deduce in my head what condition the patient may have rather than just hearing a yes or no response.”
While Pano’s medical journey has come full circle, he is still humbled by the experience because he knows everyone’s story is different.
“I have not disclosed, and most likely never will, my personal history with cancer with any of the patients I see with Dr. Hord,” said Pano. “It’s a privilege that families allow me to sit in on their appointments with Dr. Hord so I don’t want to ruin the professional boundary between me and the patients. I’m there to learn and gain insight on how a care plan comes together.”
Pano is a biomedical science major at The University of Akron and hopes the shadowing experience with Dr. Hord will give him better direction as he approaches medical school.
“Being able to see what goes on behind the scenes and the doctor-patient interactions are definitely the most interesting and exciting parts of this whole experience,” added Pano. “I am thankful to Dr. Hord for letting me follow him and for this great experience at Akron Children’s.”
To request an appointment with the Shower’s Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders call 330-543-8580 or to learn how to support kids at Akron Children’s Hospital or to contribute to Pano’s Kick Childhood Cancer fund.