Since being diagnosed with Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia (WM) in 2008, I have spent countless hours with each of these amazing women. Since WM is treatable but incurable, my oncologist has put me on a variety of treatments over the years. Each time, I was always impressed by the kind and happy spirit of giving these angels displayed. Given the right training, I suppose anyone could provide a nursing service. But these women provide far more than a service. They always bring a smile, warmth and a willingness to share a part of themselves. All the while, providing constant attention to detail, working as quickly as possible and making sure I was comfortable.
Over the years, my time with these wonderful ladies increased due to the increasing frequency of my treatments. I began to call my time at the Cancer Center my "Spa Days". After all, I was cared for, waited on hand and foot and spoiled all day! I'm sure this is a recurring story told by many patients in this facility. Yet despite that, I wasn't moved to recognize them, even though I should have been.
What truly moved me were the actions of all these ladies over the last 3 months of 2018. In October my condition worsened. I quickly went from battling low hemoglobin, resolved with the occasional blood transfusion, to being transfusion dependent on both blood and platelets. Additionally, I became neutropenic. While my oncologist worked with his peers to find options for me, these ladies all went into overdrive on the care and I support I received.
Each one of them became involved and played key roles critical in supporting me. Sherry and Debbie worked closely with the doctors to pull years' worth of records, scheduled appointments with Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and even escalated for a date improvement of more than a month! Both talked to me in detail about my condition, how I was feeling and were always kind, candid and helpful.
Linda always stopped to ask how I was feeling and gave me her direct number to reach her any time after hours, which provides comfort.
Leslie worked closely with my doctor every other day to make sure he was aware of my lab results and to consult on my transfusion needs for that day. Plus, her playful wit always makes me laugh!
Laura always inspired me, I think because we connected easily with our passion for arts, hobbies, and music. But as a nurse, she always takes the extra step in everything she does. Whether it is offering suggestions for my travel to Boston or questions I may want to ask the doctors once I'm there, she is great at following through. A perfect example is the day I had to be admitted to the ER for neutropenic fever. Laura didn't just wheel me over to ER and let those folks admit me. She waited with me, like a loyal friend, pressed to get me admitted ASAP and stayed until I was settled in a room. She is a true patient advocate!
Anna, Jenn, Erin, and Emily all provide amazing care, funny stories, and smiles that light up my room. I don't know how they do it, seeing hundreds of patients a year. Yet I always feel like they all know the current status of my situation, even when they aren't my nurse for the day. They have all expressed concern over my travel to Boston, asking me to keep in touch and sometimes just stop in to say hi and visit for a minute.
Finally, Marissa or Lynn are certainly due for recognition. Marissa, who has drawn and quickly processed my blood for years, always giving me a copy of my lab reports because she knows I like to see them. Lately, my counts are too low to be accurately displayed on her machine, but she still makes sure the main hospital lab gets it quickly. I've always enjoyed our brief conversations. Lynn provides outstanding services, talking to patients like she's been waiting to see them and always remembering names. What a lovely way to start a visit to the Cancer Center!
As you can see, I can't possibly select a single nurse! These ladies together create an unstoppable team, a family if you will, of which I will forever be grateful to have been a part.