'The nicest, kindest man': Meet the other Donald Trump video

REUTERS

Dr Donald Trump, a Virginian doctor, is focused on clinical trials to fight cancer and doing the best he can to avoid conversations about his name or namesake.

There is at least one man in the US who presidential candidate Donald Trump may think is superior to him.

And his name is Donald Trump.

The well-respected oncologist, who runs a cancer institute in Virginia, has endured years of lighthearted ribbing because of his famous name.

Dr Donald "Skip" Trump is chief executive and executive director of Inova Schar Cancer Institute in Falls Church, Virginia.
Jabin Botsford/Washington Post

Dr Donald "Skip" Trump is chief executive and executive director of Inova Schar Cancer Institute in Falls Church, Virginia.

Lately, though, the tenor of those remarks has shifted.

"It's interesting. In some ways they've been less irritating and less intense," Dr Trump said. "I think the reactions I get when I introduce myself, or give my credit card or passport at TSA are more sympathetic than they ever have before."

The two Trumps, each powerful in his way, do have a few things in common. They're close in age – Dr Trump is 71 and candidate Trump is 70. They've both been divorced twice and are now remarried.

But that may be where the similarities end.

Known to friends by his childhood nickname "Skip", the mild-mannered doctor, who gives his own money away to charities, would rather talk about scientific advancements than boast of his personal achievements. He openly counts his failed marriages as his biggest regrets.

People who know Dr Trump call him empathetic. There's evidence of it in a picture frame on a console table in his office, which holds photos of two men.

Jerry Solomon was a 27-year-old father stricken by an aggressive leukemia when Dr Trump was a 27-year-old resident assigned to his case in 1971. Solomon died quickly.

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Years later, in 1991, Dr Trump got a letter from Solomon's son, Leonard Taube, looking for reassurance that he wouldn't face the same fate. Dr Trump called the young man and talked him through his fears.

"He spent an hour on the phone with me, calming me down," Taube said. "He was the nicest, kindest man and gave me a lot of strength to get past the dark place I was at."

Recently, with the other Trump in the news, Taube reached out to Dr Trump to thank him again, sending along photos of himself and his dad. Dr Trump said he'd display them in his office so he'd always be mindful of the importance of his work.

Of course, he's always mindful. Both of his parents died of cancer. Devoting his life to treating the disease that took theirs "is a light out there that keeps driving [him] forward", he said.

Sitting in his office earlier this week, Dr Trump eagerly explained the concept behind a patient-centred cancer treatment programme he's developing. It's all about empathy, he said.

"I think the highs and the lows [of being a cancer doctor] emphasise to me how important empathy is in this process," he said.

That quality – empathy – could explain Dr Trump's loss of regard for candidate Trump. The other Trump, he said with apparent dismay, lacks "an empathetic molecule in his body".

The two Trumps crossed paths before.

When Donald J Trump was becoming a household name as a man-about-town in Manhattan in the 1980s, Dr Trump sent him a letter unabashedly asking him to make a donation to cancer research. He also jokingly asked Trump how to handle all the ridicule he endures for sharing his name.

He didn't get a donation, but he did get a letter back from Trump's uncle with some advice that turned out to be pretty prescient for how the real estate mogul has lived his very public life: If the mocking is inevitable, then enjoy it.

When Dr Trump was hired in 2007 to run the prestigious Roswell Park Cancer Institute, one of his patients sent the famous Trump a note suggesting he should recognise the achievement – a not-so-subtle hint at making a donation.

Trump didn't send money, but Dr Trump received a congratulatory note on thick Trump letterhead. It was framed in his office for a while, although now it's stored in his attic.

These days, Dr Trump said he's going by "Skip" even at work to avoid comparisons. But having the name Donald Trump comes with some perks.

Recently, Dr Trump was stopped by police in Arlington, Virginia, after he made an illegal turn. The officer looked at Dr Trump's license. With a grin, he asked: "Who are you voting for in November?"

"Well, it depends on who you're voting for, Officer," Dr Trump replied.

The officer smiled, then let Dr Trump go with an admonishment to be more careful.

 - The Washington Post

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