Cancer patient brings bagpiper to Mayo Clinic, and then …

Patient brings piper to cancer treatment, and you won’t believe what happened next … 

(Dana Sparks, Mayo Clinic News Network) Doug Walsh came to Mayo Clinic for prostate cancer treatment and decided that while he was there, he was going to make the most of it. And that’s exactly what he did.

For most people, cancer treatment is a daunting, emotionally overwhelming experience. Doug Walsh was determined to make the best of it. And try to bring a little light to his fellow patients.

Doug tells us the first thing he did when he came to Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus for prostate cancer treatment was to go out of his way to “liven the place up” a bit. The proton beam therapy facility, which became a virtual second home for Doug, was, well, different when he showed up. “I’d say I brought an unusual sense of humor to the room,” Doug tells us. “For however long I was there each week, I just stirred the pot.”

Mostly, by doing whatever he could to make those around him laugh. “I’d walk into the treatment room every day and make some kind of comment,” Doug says. “The first day, I walked in and said, ‘Is this where you get on the bus to go Christmas shopping?’ And the room just lit up. All of a sudden, everybody’s laughing and talking to each other.”

After 42 rounds of treatment, Doug’s banter and “constant needling” of his care team had made the retired airline pilot a fan-favorite at the proton beam facility. So when his care team found out Doug was planning to wear a Scottish kilt to his end-of-treatment bell-ringing in honor of his Scottish heritage, they decided to do him one better. They arranged to have a formally dressed bagpiper add to the celebration with a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

“Having the bagpiper there was absolutely stunning,” Doug tells us. “It was about the grandest thing anybody’s ever done for me.”

But it was not the only grand moment of the day. Before he rang the bell to mark the successful end of his cancer treatments, Doug regaled the standing-room-only crowd with tales of what they mean to him and what he’ll remember most.

It was a heartfelt address that concluded with Doug asking his ex-wife, Pam, to re-marry him. Yes, right there on the spot.

“We reconnected after I got sick, and she was with me every step of the way at Mayo Clinic,” Doug says of his now ex-ex, Pam. “After she said yes, I rang the bell.” And, we imagine, rode off into the sunset to a Celtic tune. Displayed with permission of Mayo Clinic News Network. 

Watch Doug’s proposal – and Pam’s answer – unfold for yourself:


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