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Remembering a good man

Contributions made in Jim Mickman’s memory will help the Neuro-Oncology Clinic carry on his advocacy work

Regions Hospital - Foundation - Sarai Brenner and Richard Peterson, MD

HealthPartners physician Jim Mickman believed it was not enough to diagnose and treat a disease; you must also help patients navigate the complexities of treatment. So when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive brain tumor, he offered his guidance to others with brain tumors.

"He went to many appointments with others," said Sarai, Jim's wife. "A neighbor would call Jim saying a cousin was diagnosed with a tumor, so Jim would sit with the family, answer their questions and help them understand their options."

The rapid onset of brain tumors, the cognitive and behavioral changes that often occur with them and the uncertainty surrounding prognosis make their care both difficult and unique from other cancers. Seizures, paralysis and permanent neurological damage are potential results of the disease, and family caregivers are often unprepared for their many new responsibilities. Even with their knowledge of the health care system, Jim and Sarai were overwhelmed by the illness.

"Only with the help of Dr. Richard Peterson [a HealthPartners neuro-oncologist] and his team were we able to navigate our options. Their help was invaluable," Sarai said. With Jim's encouragement, our cancer care centers created a specialized Neuro-Oncology Clinic to help brain tumor patients coordinate care between multiple specialties and support services.

Jim died in March 2013 after battling cancer for four years. Donations made in his memory are helping the Neuro-Oncology Clinic carry on his advocacy work. "In the worst possible circumstance, Jim made it easier for others experiencing his same condition," Sarai said. "He was the best man I ever met."