This dedicated team has and continues to provide the most excellent care I have received in a cancer setting. I am on a 19-year cancer journey receiving bloodwork, x-rays, scans, examinations, diagnoses, radiation, chemo etc. I have always received good care but nothing like the excellent care I receive at the St. Vincent’s infusion center. I believe my history allows me to draw such conclusions!
I was receiving monthly shots at the infusion center until February of this year when more tests and scans, second opinions and a biopsy concluded that the breast cancer had metastasized to the lung area. The monthly shot appointments were an in and out quick event but I had already established a relationship with many infusion team members. My new weekly chemo regimen, each visit lasting anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, gave me an opportunity to witness and feel more of the same I’d been experiencing during my monthly appointments:
-An unbelievable welcome upon entering! What a great start even if I didn’t want to be there.
-The team is ready, prepared, and knowledgeable about me and what I need. The important nuts and bolts of treatment.
-There is never any drama. The leadership is there, ever present in a very positive way. The tone of the unit is truly the best I’ve witnessed. Never have I seen or felt chaos- only a welcoming comfort.
-Here is an important part and the reason why I could never choose just one best nurse: every single team member has had a hand in my care in some fashion. And over time their roles have changed in my care but never the tenderness given when offering a pillow or blanket or a snack. The team is there to help each other as much as they are there to help me. Its like one member will magically appear when it’s time to match the name, birthday and patient ID number with the information on the computer and printed on the chemo meds. It happens quite often with a smile they’ll ask my nurse “is there anything I can do for you, did you get lunch?” it’s genuine and sincere. It’s a win-win situation.
-There is always time to answer our many questions or to say things that I really need to hear like: be kind to yourself- what you’re going through isn’t easy.
-There is always compassion, hand holding and so many smiles (at a time when they are greatly needed) from the entire team whether or not I am “their” actual patient. It’s like I am their patient too.
-My husband always comes with me to my appointments. He asks more questions than I do! The team members all know him by name and take care of him too. He’s in this for the long haul and they know it. One day I came to my appointment with a chemo buddy. I introduced my friend to them and they welcomed her and took care of her all day long. All she could say was “they are sooo nice here.” She felt and appreciated it immediately, but her appreciation only scratches the surface of what I have come to feel during each appointment. The team wanted to know where my husband was for the appointment, in a very kind way, and I told them that his oldest brother had passed away and the funeral was on my appointment day. My husband would not go to the funeral unless I had someone with me. Not only was the team concerned for him but encouraged me to figure out a plan. I hadn’t even thought of it at the time but in hindsight, of course, this team would have jumped through hoops to make it work. I should have realized. Here’s a very telling part, however. The following week of my treatment- after however many faces and patients the infusion team would have cared for during that whole week- when my husband came in they circled him, gave him their condolences and asked how he was doing. Amazing!
-There are stories, pictures of children and animals shared. It helps take my mind off of treatment as I’m pulling out the pictures of our 5 beautiful grandbabies to share. There is laughter! All so appreciate not forced. If I need the lights out, then the lights are out. Simple things, over and over and over, to make the best of the situation. Sometimes attention to detail is missed but not here, not ever. I facilitate customer service classes where I work and believe me, this team, every one of them, is stellar.
I bought a box of donut holes for the team on the first day of National Nurses Week. I wanted to do something to let them know I recognize the hard job that they do and how well they do it. It didn’t seem like all that much but by all the thank you’s, one would have thought it was a box of gold! A wonderful team has been assembled to continually do one of the hardest jobs on earth, but they make it seem easy like there is nowhere else they would rather be.