“Little Doctor”: How the book came to be


We are used to coping in our day-to-day life when all goes well, but we have no idea of how to deal with our lives, nor with that of our children when fate takes us by surprise.

When “Little Doctor” was born, my thoughts were turned to my son Marcelo. I wished to share with him my feelings of how precious life is, and that living with a will and with joy does us a world of good, no matter what stage of life we are at.

Alexandre, Marcelo’s younger brother, taught us to see things from an easy-going, truthful point of view. During the twenty months of his struggle with a neuroblastoma that took him to a world beyond this one, he kept his spirits high, with a good sense of humor, and often, with funny remarks.

He wanted to be a doctor and lived through his disease as if he were a doctor doing his residency; he inquired about everything, read the doctors’ reports, talked to all the doctors and nurses on an even basis, and offered feedback and suggestions in his typically frank way: “I can’t hold my arm up in the air for 5 seconds. I’m not at all well you know” “Come on, Alexandre, just a little more”, the physiotherapist would say. “You are doing so well.” “You think I’m doing well, because you don’t know what a wizard I am at skiing. You only know me here in bed in hospital, but, really, I’m not like this at all.”

Alexandre had a very intuitive and particular way of facing adversity: “Mummy, look how lucky I am. I am at the best hospital, with the best doctors; I’m going to be a good doctor because I was a patient first, and I know what doctors have to do, but don’t always do. They have to pay attention to what their patient says; that’s what’s missing: listening to the patient. It’s as if they didn’t know that with no patient, there is no doctor.”

When we are able to rebuild our life after the loss of a son, it is important to share this with others, because difficult situations happen to us all.

“Little Doctor” has brought my darling Alexandre back to this world. And when I see the book on the shelf of a bookstore, I wink with my left eye at the book, and I am sure that my son knows it’s for him.

Graziela Gilioli February 27, 2008.