March 6, 2018 | Completing the Little Rock Half Marathon is more than an athletic feat for Nikhil Meena, M.D.; it is a symbolic gesture as well. For the second year in a row, the UAMS interventional pulmonologist wore two numbers on the 13.1-mile course: one for himself and one in memory of a patient.
“I want to let the families of my patients know that even though they are gone, they are not forgotten,” said Meena, assistant professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine.
This year, Meena ran the March 4 race in memory of Grover West III, a lung cancer patient who died Nov. 20, 2016. Meena was part of the lung cancer team that treated West at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and remembers him as an upbeat person who always greeted him with a smile. “He knew he was very sick, but he had such a good spirit,” Meena said.
West’s wife, Peggy, said her husband and Meena hit it off immediately and developed a special bond. Because of their relationship, it does not surprise her that Meena would honor West in this way.
“Dr. Meena is a special doctor and a sweet person. He and Grover had a strong connection, so I think it’s very touching that he wants to run this half marathon for him,” said West, who served as an advanced practice registered nurse in the UAMS Myeloma Institute before her retirement three years ago.
Meena’s tradition of honoring his patients began with the 2017 Little Rock Half Marathon, which he ran in memory of former UAMS employee Joe Cook. He has since run the Soaring Wings Half Marathon in Conway and said he is “officially a runner now,” thanks in part to his desire to honor the memory of his patients. “I would run for all of them if I could,” he said.