Dr. Flavio Kruter has been in private practice in Carroll County since 1993, and serves as the medical director at the William E. Kahlert Regional Cancer Center in Westminster.
Kruter considers the notes and cards from his patients his resume. Trinkets and small, handmade whimsical gifts on a bookshelf in his office capture both the joys in his life (Brazil, soccer, laughter, living) and the joy he has brought to others. Beneath a stunning photo of a fishing line cast across a crisp water, one patient, Dennis, inscribed:
“A good doctor knows the value of medicine. An outstanding doctor knows the value of fishing!”
Kruter specializes in both Medical Oncology and Hematology, and started his medical career at Faculdade de Medicina in Porto Alegre, Brazil. After finishing his internship and residency there, he completed his Fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at George Washington University Medical Center and the University of Maryland.
What thrills you the most about your job? When we moved from the old center to William E. Kahlert Regional Cancer Center, I moved the cards and letters from my patients. They are in my drawer; some are small words of thanks and others are long letters. Those are my resume. I’m proud of professional accomplishments, but to be able to be a part of so many people’s lives, at various stages, and be able to help them wherever the journey leads thrills me.
What keeps you up at night? My children are grown and doing well. I’m not starting out in my field; in fact, I feel accomplished. So after a long day, not a lot can take my sleep away.
How do you and your team remain connected to the latest cancer and/or blood disorder treatments? Technology really helps. We don’t have to lean on books and professional journals and face-to-face meetings. It’s still nice to have those but so, so much information is available at our fingertips now, and the ways we communicate are more vast.
In the last five years, what have been the most exciting breakthroughs in cancer and/or blood disorder research and/or treatments that you have been able to usher to Carroll County? I am fortunate to be living during a revolutionary time in oncology regarding treatments and resources. At first, there would be one or two more new drugs in a year’s time, but in the last five to eight years there has been an avalanche of new drugs. The attack on cancer is different; there are more drugs that enable our own immune systems to fight better. This doesn’t apply to all forms of cancer, but many.
Are there one or two others that you are watching that you are eager to be able to offer here? We are expanding the number of trials that we participate in. I’m looking forward to introducing those, as well as advances in radiation therapy that are more direct, specific and, in some ways, less toxic.
Do the number of cancer diagnosis in Carroll County mirror the numbers across the nation or in counties of comparable size? We are on the average. For some types, we are higher; for others, less. Overall, statistics are fairly similar.
In your mind, what distinguishes the William E. Kahlert Regional Cancer Center from other canter centers? When we sat down and talked about what we needed, from the beginning to this day, we reminded ourselves, ‘This is for the community. It belongs to the community.’ And the community has been involved. Community members served on committees and they shared what their expectations were; they shared their ideal. I think that differentiates this place. We all agreed that we wanted to be a center of excellence and offer scientific advances, and we wanted to maintain a warm feeling. We hear from our patients that that combination exists.
What is some of the key advice you first offer patients who have a cancer diagnosis? And later in their treatment – what advice do you offer? I enjoy spending time spend with my patients talking about the disease and taking the mystery out of it. If they understand, they feel more comfortable and they understand why we are doing what we are doing. I encourage them to give themselves time – physical and mental time – to adapt to life with cancer. The need to invest in one day at a time is very truthful. We can see that progression in patients as they adapt to each stage. What helps is to always offer them a plan, whether it’s a form of chemo or radiation or even supportive care to ensure that there is no pain. It helps to know that somebody else is here. We have a great team of nurses and staff members who are essential in each patient’s journey to ensure that there is no suffering. They are all fantastic.
Please share the range of hours you work during a typical work week? Long hours. Ha. Ha. – Let’s leave it at that.
How do you revive yourself? I like this question. I enjoy every day. I really do. We all have hard days, but I find joy in each day… and humor. I revive by spending time with my wife, Ellie, and the children [Laura, 37; Gabriela, 29; Nicholas, 27; Luisa 23]. We enjoy creating memories, and we try to take a vacation once a year or every two years. I also love to exercise and I love to grill – ribs especially – Brazilian style.
What or who inspires you the most? In terms of being a cancer doctor, a lot of my teachers in medical school. I still carry their lessons with me – how to talk to patients – so many lessons. I sometimes think about going back to school to teach, especially when I slow down. Regarding current inspiration? Absolutely, my patients. They make me think every day and when there is someone that I can help, that reminds me that I’m here for a reason and energy rolls back every time.
Favorite movies, music, and or foods? Mystery books. Old movies. Foreign movies. Brazilian food.
What brought you to Carroll County? When I was training at the University of Maryland, I established relationships with doctors here. I was also attracted because there was no oncologist who rooted here; doctors came and went. I wanted to commit to the community, and then the community was so accepting. It has been beautiful.
What keeps you here? The years have shown me that what I set out to do has worked. Every day, as we bring new technology and new science to patients, that keeps me here.