Oct. 20, 2016 -- When Harris Lott was diagnosed with cancer last summer, the 2-year-old had an asset most children don’t have: Parents who are both doctors.
McGregor Lott, MD, and Mary Elizabeth Lott, MD, practice in the southeast Georgia town of Waycross, a few miles north of Florida. He’s an ophthalmologist and she's a pediatrician. They met at medical school in Augusta, GA.
Harris was one of four children in the Waycross area diagnosed with rare cancers. He and two of the others have a type known as rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that starts in the body’s soft tissues, usually muscles.
When their son was diagnosed, the Lotts knew how the science worked and where to go for answers.
When asked whether it was a benefit for them to be doctors, having a child with cancer, Mary Elizabeth Lott says, “I think it was helpful, that we were able to ask more questions” about possible treatments.
But as doctors, the couple also had a stark understanding of the perils their son was facing.
They knew what kind of damage the disease could wreak. And beyond concerns about his survival, they were aware of the possible side effects of treatment. Those can include delayed growth; heart, lung, or endocrine issues; and fertility problems.
“We knew the long-term issues," Mary Elizabeth Lott says.
They also had concerns typical for any family hit by cancer. “When your child is diagnosed, you have to figure out how to make it” as a family, McGregor Lott says.
Mary Elizabeth Lott, who was already working part-time, cut further back on her pediatric practice and became Harris's primary caregiver. They also have a daughter, 6-year-old Candler.
“If he got sick," she says, “I had to cancel clinics.” Her employer, McKinney Medical Center, has been very understanding, she says.
Meanwhile, McGregor Lott had to “try to keep the fires burning" through his own practice. It's the source of the family's health insurance, which has been crucial as Harris' medical costs have continued to pile up.