Rachel Anderson
July 2020
Neurosciences Critical Care Unit
The Johns Hopkins Hospital
United States




My journey began around Thanksgiving of 2019 when I came down with the flu. After a request of my primary physician to get a chest x-ray, I soon found myself getting a CT-scan, and ultimately an MRI. It did not take long to realize I was facing a life-changing event. We (my wife and I) soon found ourselves asking for a referral and making a trip to Johns Hopkins for appointments with several doctors. I would later find out I had two separate cancers.
I had a chromophobe RCC, and after recovering from my left kidney nephrectomy. I was looking at addressing the tumor on my spine, and it was not long after that, I soon found myself in the care of two more doctors for my spine tumor.
My first experience with the nurses of the Neurology Critical Care Unit began after my IR Embolization Spinal (to prepare me for the next day surgery). I stayed in ICU until the procedure days later. When I woke up in NCCU from surgery, I literally felt like I had been hit by a truck, defeated, and my spirit was broken. I was alone, with no family waiting (due to COVID restrictions). As the day went on, I became more lucid and aware of what I had been through, still not knowing what my future held.
That evening was when I first met my nurse, Rachel Anderson. Like all the other nurses in NCCU, she was fantastic, professional, and had compassion. All the qualities you would expect from a nurse. Therefore, what makes her so special and a standout from her peers?
As I laid there in bed, I must have looked defeated, and it was as if she could sense how I felt. I cannot remember what it was that I said, or how the conversation evolved, but she had opened up and shared with me a very personal part of her life. She explained to me that she, too had been through the same procedure, and she reassured me it would get better.
I had waited until she left the room before I broke down and cried. These were healing tears and tears of joy. She had given me hope and inspiration when I felt so alone, broken, and in despair. She understood my despair - SHE GOT ME. I will never forget how she made me feel. I will share this story with anyone who will listen, until the day I die.
It is strange; we spend our days going through life, not giving much thought to what we do, who we meet, or how we treat people. Each person's life touches so many other lives in such a way. Rachel touched mine, not even aware of how much of an impact she made.
Rachel Anderson is a DAISY Nurse for her compassion and professionalism.