Cancer vets, military vets: a human connection
Before Dr. Craig Kovitz became an oncologist working with many cancer patients, he actually had dreams of becoming a veterinarian. But the opportunity of working with people every day inspired him to follow a path in medicine.
“It is really about the human interaction and having the ability to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Kovitz, who practices at the Bay Area Regional Care Center on the Christus St. John campus. “And it also has been the impact that people have made on me over time.” Kovitz also is the assistant professor of general oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
In addition to his civilian profession, Kovitz is an Air Force veteran. During his service, he decided to focus on treating forms of cancer while an internist for seven years.
“That was the time that I got to interact with a number of patients who were going through the challenges of malignancy,” he said. “What was striking to me, during the time, was that the patients that were going through the toughest of circumstances had the most amazing strength and had a strong willingness to battle.”
Deployed in Iraq soon after Sept. 11, Kovitz treated many service members who were terribly wounded. He said their resolve was parallel to the cancer patients he currently treats.
“When I was in the military, the wounded would ask things like, ‘How are other people in my unit?’ ‘How soon can I get back to my team?’” he said. “When I see patients going through such situations, I see the great strength they have to deal with something unimaginable. They are able to hold others up, from their families to our own staff.”
Though dealing with a sober topic such as cancer, Kovitz said the truth is a large portion of his patients do extremely well and are able to overcome their diagnosis. Being a veteran, he said, taught him that the strength of humanity can be found in the most life challenging situations.
“You see this type of things in accidents or natural disasters and it’s humbling,” he said. “During Veterans Day, my family, with my father-in-law who is an Army veteran, takes the extra time to remember the day-to-day service of present and past members. I remind our kids that it’s not about politics, it’s about these people who take time out away from their families to help and protect others.”
About Dr. Craig Kovitz:
OCCUPATION: Assistant professor of general oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: Practices at the Bay Area Regional Care Center on the Christus St. John campus
NOTABLE: Served in U.S. Air Force; Iraq War veteran
FAST FACT: Earned medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York