Terri Clark

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2020 was more than a trying year….. more than a heartbreaking one. And like so many of you, I’m choosing to believe that the saying, “it’s always darkest before the dawn” will ring true. And while we wait for that to emerge, I wanted to shine a little pre-dawn light on some incredible humans for a series of “Frontline Friday” posts featuring people others have brought to my attention as being true heroes.

For this brand new year, and the first Friday of 2021, I reached out to one of my best friends and my personal hero, Tonda Galttana, who is serving and sacrificing herself year-round in the medical community. I could think of no one better to write about a hero, than a hero.

These are her words and I’m honored to post them on her behalf and to personally thank Dr. Kankanala for all his hard work and for reminding us that hard times don’t create heroes, they reveal them. – Terri 

To nominate a frontline worker, click HERE.

Tonda’s Tribute:

From a distance, it’s easy for some to be blasé about medical professionals, ‘Well, he’s a doctor, he’s in the business of saving people’s lives, that’s what he gets paid to do.’ This is true. However, like in any profession, there are doctors who punch a clock who you wouldn’t send your mother-in-law to, and then there are Doctors like Dr. K (as he is known). The way in which he conducts himself with his patients is a sight to behold and heartwarming to witness. He has a gift.

In P.C. times (pre-Covid) it wasn’t just the extra time he took to listen to his patients and their families; what set him apart (and still does) is his innate ability to make every patient feel as if they are the only person in the room. They never feel like a number on his case load. His work is his calling and he seldom takes time off for himself. He treats people for free if they have no insurance and cannot afford to pay. He advocates for his patients so that they will receive the best possible care under his watch. He is funny and easy to talk to and exudes warmth and compassion always. He absolutely loves his patients, and they feel it.

Some of the elderly women he treats call him their boyfriend and rush to put on just the right shade of lipstick when he comes and they never let him leave without a hug.

They are not his obligation, they are his privilege; he has always been their hero.

Fast forward to Covid Times and Dr. K is on the front line at Baylor Hospital’s COVID unit. Every day he fighting to save people’s lives, all the while risking his own health and well-being. For anyone to be able to not only maintain their composure but to also be a calming, reassuring presence during a catastrophic time when they are quarantined away from their family and friends is truly miraculous.

He is their doctor, but has also taken on the role of their lifeline.

Dr. Kankanala has suffered physically and emotionally but all in private. I recently asked him if all of what he sees every day makes him want to cry. He replied, “yes, but I don’t.”