My husband was formally diagnosed with metastatic melanoma after a week-long hospital stay of numerous tests to confirm the doctor's suspicions. Pat Schommer was right there with me when we were informed by the IMC medical team. A consult/referral was requested by IMC, however MAMC oncology was not going to be able to see him until almost a month after diagnosis. Pat felt that was unacceptable and took it upon herself to speak with the Department Chief who in turn referred him out to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA).
He had his first appointment and his first immunotherapy, all of this before he could have been seen. Without Pat's intervention, we would have been a month in waiting. We were very grateful. His treatments were going well and after 2nd treatment, a lot of the lesions and the liver mass were subsiding, and cancer had not spread; such that his oncologist suspended treatment due to some toxicity he was developing.
My husband woke up experiencing extreme labored breathing and temperature of 103.5. I immediately called 911 and they ambulanced him to MAMC. As I live almost 45 minutes out, I called Pat and asked if she would meet them in the ER. She did and was able to relay his condition and meds to the ER doctors. Very grateful she was there as she relayed to me once I arrived that he was not very coherent and could not answer the ER questions. Bottom line is that he was in the hospital for 7 days. He was diagnosed with additional side effects from the nivolumab therapy: high fever, shortness of breath, and a lung infection. Pat came to see us every day after her workday was over and sometimes during the day to explain what treatments/tests the MAMC doctors were trying to ensure we understood what was going on.
Pat was the conduit between MAMC and the SCCA, ensuring the doctor's report, ultrasounds and CT scans were put on disks from the MAMC radiology department and electronically sent forward. She was also there for me on some late-night crying jags, helping me to cope as well. Her involvement is a blessing to me as she ensured both treatment centers were kept on the same page. She is continuing to do so as we speak and has developed a rapport with his SCAA Case Manager.
On a personal note, having been the AO for over 14 years I am well aware of the workloads your nurses carry and for Pat to take this on is very much appreciated and is indicative of the type of nurse/person she is. Pat personifies MAMC's mantra "Care with Compassion". She is one of a few people that can be counted upon to do her job and goes the extra mile without being asked.