Julia Shikhmetoff
November 2023
Med surg/Oncology
Northside Hospital Forsyth
United States




Julia gave me a place to start to figure things out, to start to process transitional experiences like cancer. She was fun, honest, and unwavering.
I became an orphan and widow at 48 years old. I lost my entire support system, my family. My spirit and heart broken.

In Fall 2022, I was admitted with CHF and diagnosed with stage 4 uterine cancer. I was 48. Say Good Night, G.

Medical professionals are saying nothing, not a good sign. I am also being warned off google search - another bad sign. Hope? I don't see any, and I am an optimist. I am scared. I am hospitalized. I am hemorrhaging and have had 10 transfusions. I think I need to waive the white flag. They say I have less than a year without some kind of treatment. I don't think I have any fight left in me. Enter Julia. My nurse. My oncology nurse.

Julia told me they were not waiting for chemotherapy and that she would be getting me started. I told her I didn't see the point. She didn't take the bait. She said she would be back, and we would get started. Sneaky. I know she heard me.

She explained it all to me. What to expect and side effects. She never looked me in the eyes. I said I wasn't sure. She continued about her business and said even the smallest chance is still a chance. She said, "Why not try?" It wasn't a flat obligatory ask. She wasn't trying to manage me; she connected with me. "It's just one treatment" Sneaky.

I was overwhelmed, even though it might not have looked like it. I had no time to adjust and to figure things out. I felt like a crash test dummy flung into a brick wall. So, I got chemo round 1. Julia was there, and we talked about everything but cancer. At the strangest moment, I got Julia. This is more than nursing; it is caretaking. I have no doubt she knew better than me, just how fragile I was. Like I said, sneaky.

Julia gave me a place to start to figure things out, to start to process transitional experiences like cancer. She was fun, honest, and unwavering. I never saw her roll her eyes, sigh, or look annoyed. How many times had she been through situations like this and how many time had she been an answer to prayer? That kind of Love was not reserved for just me. I am certain Julia has saved more lives than not by being sneaky.

I leave the hospital only to return almost a year later. Not quite serious this time. Julia is my nurse. I am embarrassed that I have allowed so much time to pass without acknowledging her. She remembers me and I did not see anything in her that recognized the profound effect she had on my life, my life. I think she would have seen it as simply as doing her job.

Nothing was any different. She was the same kind, loving person. She took care of me and even had balloons waiting for me when I came back from getting my pacemaker. Still sneaky.

I have stage 4 uterine cancer.

I am 49 years old.

I finished chemo. I survived.

I had a hysterectomy. I survived.

I started immunotherapy, and they think I will be in the 3% survival rate.

I am still here.

Julia was right. Julia saved my life in more ways than she will ever know.

Julia, if you ever wonder about the impact you make on a life, then hold onto this. You are as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. Someone smiled on me that day. To have had you by my side was a gift. I have no doubt you are my guardian angel.