Muslim, cancer communities grieve loss of Victoria oncologist
Jennifer Lee Preyss
March 18, 2013 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 17, 2013 at 10:18 p.m.
A deafening silence filled the Victoria Islamic Center on Monday as evening prayers were uttered at dusk.
Many of the center's members were gathered to honor the loss of one of their brothers, Dr. Ahmad Qadri, a Victoria oncologist, who died suddenly Saturday from a heart attack.
Per the traditions of Qadri's Islamic faith, Qadri was buried as soon as possible. A service was held at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Islamic Center Gardens in Victoria.
"I was surprised to see so many people at the funeral on such short notice, but that just shows how much he was loved," said Islamic Center President and Qadri's friend, Dr. Shahid Hashmi. "He was extremely loved by his patients and staff. He was a personal friend of mine. He was a very generous man who always went out of his way for everyone."
Qadri was one of Victoria's two oncologists and has owned and operated a private practice in the city since 2002. Originally from Karachi, Pakistan, Qadri, 50, moved to the United States in 1988. He practiced hematology and oncology in New York and Alabama before moving to Texas 13 years ago. He became a U.S. citizen in 1992.
Crossroads cancer patients under Qadri's care are publicly grieving the loss of their doctor on Facebook.
Qadri was more than a white coat, they said. He was a friend to his patients, acting as their personal wellness advocate.
"The last place you expect to get excited to visit is your oncology office. But he made a horrible situation not so horrible," said patient and breast cancer survivor Wendi DuVall. "He made me feel like I mattered. If I had a concern, he'd listen. He'd close his chart and just talk to me."
DuVall, 41, who launched the Breast Friends support group in Victoria, said she has been a patient of Qadri's since she was diagnosed with cancer more than six years ago. He's the only oncologist she's ever allowed to treat her, and DuVall, who is now cancer free, credits Qadri for her survival.
If she could tell him anything now, "I would tell him, 'Thank you for saving my life and always treating me with dignity,'" she said, her voice trembling.
At the Islamic Center, Qadri's son, Zohaib Qadri, 23, recalled his last conversation with his father.
On Friday, the pair discussed Zohaib's impending graduation at the University of Texas-Austin, where he's studying psychology and sociology and planning to pursue graduate studies in law.
"He told me 'I'm really proud of you and that you're on the right path, and at the end of the day, I know you'll be successful," Zohaib said, taking a deep breath and burying his head in his hands. "He gave me a hug and kiss, and that was it."
Zohaib, Qadri's oldest child, said he was comforted that his last conversation with his father was encouraging and kind.
"I wish I had more time with him, but that's a given," he said. "A part of me doesn't want to go back to school, but ... people keep telling me 'Your father would want you to finish.' So, I'm going back. I'm doing it for my dad."
Hashmi emphasized Qadri's commitment to the Crossroads' Muslim community and the growth of the Islamic Center.
"He was a board member and very active here. We are all family (at the Islamic Center), and he would go out of his way for his friends and patients. And several of his patients are members here," Hashmi said. "He was always taking care of our center. He was very supportive, financially and otherwise. He never refused any donation."
Family and friends reiterated the kindness and Qadri's willingness to go above what was expected of him to serve and care for family, friends and patients. It was more than his profession. It was part of his nature, Zohaib said.
"He was always going out of his way for everyone, especially his patients. I've never seen any other doctor do that," Zohaib said. "I think I would not be the man I am today without him. I'm a good guy because of my father."
Qadri is also survived by his wife, Farah, their two daughters, Zara and Zoha, and son, Raza.