In February my sister, C, was seen in the Overlook ER for abdominal pain accompanied by jaundice. My heart knew this was not going to be good news. She was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Her next step was to start chemotherapy at Carol G Simon Cancer Center. Her kids explored another facility where she was offered a clinical trial. She opted to try the trial since her prognosis and current standard of care did not offer a cure, the word all cancer patients want to hear. C started the trial which was not an easy one to tolerate while pounding her with untoward side effects. Many times C wanted to quit. However, she kept fighting. Following a CAT Scan Imaging after 6 cycles of this severe treatment, her cancer had progressed. Since the other facility did not have any other trials to offer C, she decided to continue treatment at Overlook Medical Center under the care of Dr. M. This is where Kim Colasanti came into her life.
I have worked with Kim for the past five years. She has always been an excellent and caring nurse. However, her care for my sister was nothing less than exceptional. C had a difficult port to access which caused her and the family a great deal of anxiety when she came in for treatment. Many nurses at the other facility repeatedly punctured the site without getting into her port. However, Kim had that magic touch. She accessed her without any difficulty. Kim thoroughly explained the Folforinox treatment to C always asking her if she understood and wanted to continue the treatment. Kim wanted C and her family to know that it would ultimately be her decision and that no one is pushing C to continue the treatment. Kim treated C each and every time she came in for chemotherapy. She received 2 cycles of Folforinox but, unfortunately, her disease continued to progress. During this time a phase 2 trial was underway at Morristown for treating patients with her type of cancer. It incorporated her current Folforinox with the additions of an investigative agent, CPI613. C was given the drug by the pharmaceutical company on a compassionate use since she did not meet the inclusion criteria set forth by the pharmaceutical company and the lead investigator at Morristown. This new treatment gave her family and C a glimpse of hope. Maybe this would give her a few more months.
Once C was granted permission to receive this new trial drug, Kim was instrumental in getting all the nurses educated on the use of this drug. CPI613 had to be given over a certain time and with a pump not currently available at the Cancer Center. Kim was able to find out where we could borrow the pump, and with the help of the Overlook research team, she arranged an in-service so that all nurses felt comfortable administering this drug.
Kim wanted to make sure C always had consistent care from all the nurses in case Kim was not there on a certain day. Unfortunately, C did not do well with this trial either. Her disease was very resistant to any kind of chemotherapy and we quickly exhausted all viable options for continual chemotherapy. At this point, her destiny was all but written.
When C transitioned to hospice care, Kim was always there each step of the way. She gave C and the family all the emotional support that anyone could ask for. She was always a phone call away. She made a trip to 3AB to insert her Huber needle into her port since the nurses on 3AB were having difficulty. Kim always asked what C's desire to eat was since eating was a struggle for her in her last few weeks. Kim would have gotten C whatever her heart desired.
After a few days in 3AB C became more lethargic and had periods of confusion. However, her spirits always improved when she saw Kim. C called Kim her angel! Patients always know who the true angels are.
When C was discharged to the Center for Hope in Scotch Plains, Kim continued to visit C. Her presence always brought joy to the family during this difficult time. After three days at this center, C finally succumbed to her disease and passed peacefully surrounded by her family.