The Cancer Center’s Story Project is an effort to capture stories from our community of patients, friends, family, clinicians, and staff who have been affected by cancer in some way. This is Robert's Story.

  • Robert McLean and his wife Johanna have been coming to Mass General for 2 years to treat Robert’s multiple myeloma. He enjoys the friendliness he encounters from Cancer Center faculty and staff from the hospital entrance, to the front desk staff, to his care team.
  • "Well, okay I have cancer. Alright. I don’t worry about it at all because if anything’s wrong, I know where to go and it’ll get fixed."

Life Since Diagnosis

Robert Mclean

Johanna: “Well, you were working. You were very happy working and from one day to the next that was it, you know? We went on vacation for three weeks, our dream vacation which turned into a nightmare because of the backache he had just got worse and worse to the point where he left Boston walking and he came back in a wheelchair. So that was it, no more work. So yes, it has been a huge change. Financially, it was a big change. I thought the first half year or so was hard."

Robert: “We came back from the trip right away. I was in a wheelchair getting on the plane. We were in Europe. We came back on the plane and went to see my main doctor right away and he said ‘I think you should go up here to see these people’. So, I came up and they gave me the MRI and said ‘wow, you’ve got something’.”

Johanna: “Your sister did pass, she didn’t make it. But she was very happy with the way she was treated here. And their daughter was a nurse, also here in Boston, and we talked to her and she got on the phone and she knew which doctors to talk to and we just came right in.”

Experience at Mass General

Robert: “We will have been here for 2 years in January. We never really had a bad experience. The people are so friendly. We can’t get over how well we have been received as far as coming here from the doorman downstairs...when we first came here I was on crutches because I have multiple myeloma and they couldn’t be fast enough to get me a wheelchair if I needed it. They wanted to help us with everything. We get upstairs and we run into David [patient care coordinator]. Every hospital ought to have someone like David. He just makes the experience fun.”

Johanna: “We hadn’t been here in 3 months and you walk in and he remembered us.”

Robert: “It’s all on a first name basis. It’s very friendly. It takes the fear away from it. The way everyone treats you: it’s nice. You look forward to coming here, at least we did. Now I only come in every three months and I actually miss it because I’m retired and don’t have anything to do. I would look forward to Tuesdays for something to do. My doctor, Dr. Raje, is teamed with Jill Burke and they couldn’t be nicer. And anybody who has come in whether it was the fellows or the residents; they’re fantastic too. It’s almost like every company ought to have a human resources department that hires people to be friendly and have good memories for names."

Robert and his wife Johanna
Robert and his wife Johanna

"I came in because I had back pain to start with and I went to a place up near where we live, up in Andover, and I had an x-ray and [the doctor] said ‘Oops, you have something and you have to go to Boston.’ My relatives, my sister, and my brother-in-law…my brother-in-law spent some time here and he’s doing well, too. We would speak probably the same as I do, maybe a little bit more eloquent, about how nice they treated them here. So it was a case of, ‘Well okay, we’ll come here because they said so’. Anybody who I run into, I tell them that this is the place to go. It sold me, if you will. This is where you should go because the treatments you get are always right on top of me, they’re always available. I know with [my nurse practitioner], I don’t know how many times I emailed her and said ‘hey, I’ve got the sniffles today. I have a sore throat’ or anything. She’s always been right there to come back and take care of anything for us. So it’s been a real good experience. Yeah, everyone should be like this. Not only with medical or anything else but you know, walking around on the street ‘Hi, how are ya?’ You know, it’s great! It changes everything. You know you say, ‘Well, okay I have cancer. Alright.’ I don’t worry about it at all because if anything’s wrong, I know where to go and it’ll get fixed. I have no problems with it.”

Well, okay I have cancer. Alright. I don’t worry about it at all because if anything’s wrong, I know where to go and it’ll get fixed.

Robert McLean

This interview took place October 25th, 2016 and has been edited for clarity.